Jack Peñate is a posh kid from South London who nevertheless affects the professional Cockney accent that’s currently de rigueur with aspiring English pop monkeys. He’s best mates with the ubiquitous (but genuinely talented) Lily Allen and is tearing up the U.K. charts with slick, self-deprecating indie pop. He’s also, for his sins, the latest in a long line of NME-anointed saviors of the universe. Which, frankly, just goes to show how desperate the music rag is these days in its hyperventilating attempts to proclaim the next big thing. Because, for all the hype, Matinee is one of the most lightweight, fleeting and transparent debuts in recent memory. It’s initially pleasant enough, an upbeat mishmash of sub-Dexy’s Midnight Runners cod-soul vocals, anemic rockabilly licks and the odd touch of ska lite. Peñate points toward Todd Rundgren and Jeff Buckley as influences, but if anything, the bulk of Matinee recalls nothing so much as the collected b-sides of Haircut 100 and a-ha. (Not a good thing.) It’s not all terrible (“Run For Your Life” nods agreeably toward the underrated Bluetones), but overall, Matinee is a vapid album whose relentless perkiness only serves to irritate. []

—Neil Ferguson