I have not been listening to much, if any metal in the month of August at all. What started as a lack of interest in the vast majority of new releases coming out turned into a sort of challenge for myself to see how deeply I could dive into my other musical passions. As briefly mentioned on our last Album of the Month podcast episode, 2022 has seen me reignite my love for, and attempt to fill in, the gaps in my knowledge of the classics of goth rock, and August has seen that expand via exploring the venerable 4AD records roster, to include early 90s shoegaze as well. Through discovering classics I had previously missed like Ride’s Nowhere and Pale Saints’ The Comforts of Madness to revisiting old favorites like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine, I remembered just how much I really enjoy shoegaze outside of when it mixes with black metal. It felt like a good portent, then I saw the promo for Pencey Sloe‘s Neglect coming out when my fervor for the genre was at its height.
Pencey Sloe hail from Paris, France. Since 2017 the band has put out one self-titled EP and one prior full-length, 2019’s Don’t Believe Watch Out. In the two years that followed, the band went from being a three-piece to a duo, with main songwriter Diane Pellotieri now joined by new drummer Clément Hateau. The lineup changes seem to have done nothing but revitalize the songwriting process, as Neglect feels like an album crafted by veterans rather than an act starting from scratch. And it benefits from the help of veteran guest appearances, courtesy of Alcest’s Neige and Jesu’s Justin Broadrick. If you’ve ever wondered what the melodic structure of Alcest’s Ecailles de Lune would sound like over the dreamy wash of Slowdive’s Souvlaki, Neglect is the answer to that question. It is music that feels very appropriate for the time of its release; mid-August, especially in Southern California where we are at the height of the liminal days summer, is a time of hazy heat and outlandish sun. There is a kind of unreality that exists at the edges of everything that the music here captures perfectly, the fuzzy chords and bits of droning synth replicating in audio form the way heat shimmers off of the endless blacktop of city living, carried by Pellotieri’s haunting, ethereal vocals.
The classics of any genre are generally lauded as such for a reason, but it is good to remember that there is still exciting innovation happening on the forefront as well. Neglect is an album that excels at marrying the best of what made shoegaze a unique musical style at its inception to the bright tendrils of its future still snaking out. I’m pleased to say this album will do nothing to make me stop listening to shoegaze any time soon.