Often it’s easy for reviewers – or ‘critics’ if we’re puffing out our chests and self-aggrandising – to forget that essentially we’re only presenting our personal opinion.
The problem with that is that opinions can change. And that is exactly where I’ve found myself after a couple of weeks with Pentimento’s latest full-length, ‘I, No Longer’.
Now, for full disclosure – I’m a huge Pentimento fan. If you haven’t checked out their self-titled debut or ‘Inside The Sea’, you’re missing out. Period. Yet my final review for ‘I, Longer’ looks far different to the words I scrawled down last week.
Initially, I just felt it was all a bit too… boring. Pedestrian and one-paced, with an emphasis on mood and texture rather than heartfelt sing-alongs, it was like all of the things I loved about their previous output had been removed, replaced by an overwrought, overblown sense of grandeur.
So, a fortnight down the line and I find myself playing ‘I, No Longer’ on a daily basis. Not out of obligation because it needs to be reviewed, but because I enjoy it (for enjoy, read love); it swings from being achingly beautiful and sincere to euphoric and bombastic, often within the same song.
For example, ‘My Solution Is In The Lake’ harks back to the narrative approach of The Weakerthans’ ‘Exiles Among You’ and is lyrically the finest song the group has written to date, rich with imagery and dripping with emotion. It’s a similar story throughout, with ‘Tell Me’ and ‘Stuck Forever’ recalling the spine-tingling melancholy of Copeland, albeit with a rocking, punchy veneer.
Fortunately there’s still some old-school Pentimento blasts buried within ‘I, No Longer’, which begin to shine once you’re embedded in the record. ‘Sink Or Swim’ is a real fist in the air anthem, while ‘Slow But Sure’ is merely a more refined take on their older sound, as is the powerful opener ‘Small Talk For Strangers’.
It’s something of a crude comparison, but if you imagine the feeling you got when you first listened to ‘Deja Entendu’ after blasting ‘Your Favourite Weapon’, then that’s what we’re talking about. It’s not an immediate “holy shit” reaction – in fact it’s considerably more subtle, seeping in over multiple listens. But, for reference, in the course of doing this review, I gave ‘Pentimento’ a spin. It barely lasted 3 songs before I flipped back to ‘I, No Longer’. I’d have never thought that a week ago.
Of course, they’re both excellent albums, but while ‘Pentimento’ is a strong example of the genre, ‘I, No Longer’ is something altogether different. It’s a big league album with title aspirations and boy, does it sound like it.
‘I, No Longer’ by Pentimento is out now on Bad Timing Records.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)