Not everything is new on Everything Is New, this young London singer's sophomore set, but enough is to make you wonder what on earth persuaded Jack Peñate to ditch the ample charms of his terrific debut. On 2007's Matinée, Peñate was a blue-eyed maximum-R&B man in the mold of Jam-era Paul Weller; his tempos were fast and his melodies taut, with no shortage of tidy guitar fuzz to drive everything home.
Here, working with Bloc Party producer Paul Epworth, he slows the music down and cleans up most of the street-corner grime, as if he'd moved on from the Jam to Weller's Style Council years. Love the Style Council, yet on Everything Is New the shift results in a conspicuous lack of tension or drama — which is precisely what distinguished Peñate's early stuff from that of his new-Britpop peers.
He still carries off some nice moments, as in "Tonight's Today," a shuffling little rumination on the wee-hours experience, and "So Near," which moves at a respectable disco-soul clip. But Everything Is Not Quite As Good might have been a more accurate title.