While album titles can sometimes sound confusing or unrelated to the rest of the album, Penguin Prison’s Lost In New York is one of those cases where you’ll want to take it literally. The themes of being lost in or loving the city—especially your hometown—comes through in both the music and the lyrics throughout the album. In some ways, the name applies a little too well.
The production style of the album will be familiar to long time Penguin Prison listeners. Songs feature a similarly sparse production style, using guitars and synthesized drum beats with additions as the songs call for them, but never using more than what’s necessary. The vocals of Chris Glover, the man behind the name, are right up in the center of the mix for all to hear rather than pushed behind the instrumentals. It’s a simple sound, expanded upon when it needs to be but consistent throughout the album.
The album does feature its stand-outs, with lead single Calling Out using its addition of a piano riff to stand out from the rest of the album, and making good use of the guitar riffs to back it up. While it doesn’t change things up to a huge extent, the slight changes are enough to bring it a step above the pack. Laughing At The Floor instead uses stronger guitar sections to a similar end. The guitar riff in the chorus and post-chorus is particularly noticeable, and while it’s as subtle a change as Calling Out features it’s enough to help the song.
Lost In New York is a pretty easy album to get lost in though. The similar sound can cause tracks to blend together and make it harder to keep track of where you are on the album or what you’re listening to. In an attempt to balance the acts of sticking to your sound while giving each song its own identity, the album falters slightly.
There’s no real change in genre or singing style like there was on his debut album, which did a better job of differentiating between tracks and had songs like the dance-style songs Fair Warning and especially Multi-Millionaire with its more elaborate vocals that helped it stick out. Don’t Tell Me How It Ends is about as close as it gets to a similar style of differentiation in the sound, and while it does help it doesn’t last long. As unfortunate as it is to resort to comparing albums, this is one way in which Lost In New York feels like a step back rather than a step forward.
While the sound of the album starts out nice, and Calling Out is in the perfect position to pick the album up four tracks in and keep you going, it ultimately feels like a step back rather than a progression. It’s a rather touching piece as an ode to his home town, but ultimately sits somewhere in the middle ground quality-wise.