Pencey Sloe sounds to be the name of a US private detective but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact it is a Parisian musical trio which comes with the approval of Alcest and plays dark and ethereal “dreamgaze”.
A major contributor to the dream like effect of this album is the vocalist Diane Pellotieri. Her tones are soft and haunting. The instrumentals of the opener “Lust of the Dead” are melancholic in their post rock way. Mists rise. The next song “Buried Them All” is slower and darker. The vocals give an angelic quality to contrast with the leaden heavy progress of the drum and guitar. The dreamy bubble is maintained. Sometimes the patient drum and guitar work rise but they never soar. The lady’s outerworldly drifts along. It may sound comforting but there’s something dark always about this. The post metal ring introduces depth and majesty. Exciting? No. Atmospheric? Yes. “Gold and Souls” maintains the ambient tempo and shadowy feel. It’s nice and save the occasional surge, it doesn’t change very much. This said, “Gold and Souls” is a nice track, whose beat reminded me a little of Katatonia. The lady’s voice removes the menace but not the shadows. “Empty Mind” is pure melancholic ambience with its waves of floatiness, enhanced by a punchy drum line. This is The Gathering without the psychedelia. In fact I came to the conclusion that Pencey Slow are just on a different wavelength from me after listening to the dreary dirge “It Follows”. Other may describe it as sensitive. So too “Bright Water” plods on. Bring back “Gold and Souls” and put me out of my misery, please. The distant strain reminds me of the Malaysian shoegaze band Soft who I like very much, but here the forms are indistinct, no doubt deliberately so. It meant that as I listened to the hazy and dreamy final song “17 Springs”, I felt like I was grappling with air. There’s a rich lushness about the guitar but like much of the rest of it I found myself drifting into oblivion.
“Don’t Believe, Watch Out” is a trance inducing work. Here are ten carefully constructed hymns with a defined ambience. They’re not sweet and sugary, nor are they hard edged. It is dreamy and restful. The problem with all this is whilst I wasn’t looking for bold statements, it had too much of a numbing effect on me.
(6/10 Andrew Doherty)