Track by track: Mammoth Penguins

From the moment I heard Emma Kupa sing ‘I love you, I love you, I love you, fuck it all, fuck it all, fuck it all’ on ‘I Wanna’, the lead single from Mammoth Penguins’ third album ‘There’s No Fight We Both Can’t Win’, I couldn’t help but become a Mammoth Penguins fanboy. 

With an inimitable knack for penning an indie pop gem, Mammoth Penguins continued to lure me in with the jangly ditties that followed, ‘Closure’ and ‘You Just Carry On.’ They’re easy to dance to sure, but Kupa ensures a deep humanity runs through them, allowing you to wail with emotion while your feet cut a shape in the floor. 

‘There’s No Fight We Both Can’t Win’ is that vision coming full circle. Their light and breezy soundscapes are counterbalanced by Kupa’s raw, vulnerable lyrics. On ‘There is so much more’ she submits herself wholeheartedly to her partner’s love while on ‘Put It All On You’ she’s ‘petulant’ and ‘self-pitying’.

“Only one of the songs on the record isn’t about human relationships” Kupa explains. “The songs have been written over the last few years, some of them at difficult times, so I identify with some songs more than others now. I tried to sing as powerfully as I could during the vocal session as my voice always seems to sound more timid on recordings than it does live, and I’m pleased with the result. We recorded all the songs of this album one weekend at Sickroom Studios in Norfolk, so there was some consistency to the recordings and how the songs had been produced.”

Kupa describes each of the album’s tracks for us below!

Closure: 

We were definitely aiming for a Land of Talk/Hop Along vibe with this song, but it ended up sounding like Mammoth Penguins as always! Mark did a great job with the cello on this track. This song is about when you suddenly and unexpectedly get closure from a failed relationship and how good that feels when some heavy feelings just lift.

Dick Move:

This song was written really quickly and it has a light-hearted vibe despite attempting to be an apology. It’s the punkiest song on the record and I think of my mum’s old band Poison Girls when we play it live. Richard Famous from Poison Girlsgave me his Rat distortion pedal years ago and I’ve used it on almost all of our songs.

There Is So Much More:

This song is Mammoth Penguins at our most mellow. Faith’s guitar work and Joe’s keys are beautiful on this and they really lift the sound. My guitar, Mark’s bass and Tom drums just kind of form a rhythmic basis for the vocals. The title of the album comes from this song and I think it makes more sense once you hear it in context. 

I Wanna:

This is a bouncy ode to infatuation on the cliff edge of personal and global negativity. I probably should not have put so many swear words in the lyrics (it limits radio play!), but it felt right at the time. It’s also quite cathartic to play live when we belt out the chorus. 

Let Yourself Be:

This track is super polar – it starts off really upbeat and light and then has a rocky heavy outro that comes out of nowhere. Listeners should submit to the onslaught of noisiness and take it as an opportunity to forgive themselves and use all that wasted emotional energy to do something positive. 

Put It All On You:

This song may be petulant, it may be self-pitying, it may be overdramatic, but I think the ‘oohs’ are catchy. I rarely use metaphors or similes in my lyrics but there is some imagery in this song. Tom’s harmonies are pretty sweet.

Quit My Job:

I love Mark and Tom’s backing vocals on this song so much. This is the only song not about human relationships on the album and I should probably stop writing songs about relationships. I’ve been two years self-employed now and I don’t regret quitting my job, but if anyone wants to give me a fulfilling well-paid job that I don’t have to do an interview for (I’m terrible), then do get in touch.

Cold and Lonely Place:

I love how Faith’s guitar work and Joe’s keys really contribute to the bouncy rhythm of the verses in Cold and Lonely Place. This song is about my dearth of social skills, possibly in part due to being an only child. I wrote this song while I was walking the dog out on the local playing fields.

Trust Me:

When I first brought this song to rehearsal, the chord structure of the verse sounded like Razorlightso we arranged the whole song around Mark’s bassline instead. The chorus requires a long breath. One of the phrases in the song reminds me of the horror film Let The Right One Inthat I watched with my cousins in their apartment in NYC and a massive cockroach flew in through the window halfway through the film. True story!

Doesn’t Work:

This song is an odd one, it’s got an unusual lyrical structure with no repeating chorus but a simple little pattern that we repeat three times then we just play a tender riff as an outro, and Joe put a nice sample of people speaking on the phone over the top. Mark’s acoustic guitar over the outro is lovely as well. My description does not do it justice as it’s actually one of my favourites on the album.  

You Just Carry On:

This song is fast and frantic. It’s one of the older ones on the album so we’ve played it live a lot. When we went into the studio, we just played it through and it was pretty much done. I think it ends the album on an energising note.

There’s No Fight We Both Win is out now on Fika Recordings

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