Playfellow - Penumbra

8 songs
46:08 minutes
***** **
Sweet Home


I can’t tell you how many times I have been listening to Chemnitz newcomer band Playfellow’s debut album Penumbra, and still I feel at a loss for words. Unlike many young bands you try just to copy what they think people will like, Playfellow perform alternative music in the widest sense of the word. Their songs which average six minutes are sprawling mini-epics that deliberately circumvent any clichés, adopting instead a melancholic atmosphere that is omnipresent, as well on the shorter more upbeat opener Wolves as on the reverb filled ballad What Was That Again.

From a musical point of view, two guitars and loads of keyboard instruments create a sound which is dreamlike and muscular, at least when the distortion is on, at the same time. The vocals are moaning, as if the band would like to be beamed back into the Nineties. Unhappy alt rock icons like Radiohead and Pavement must be among Playfellow’s key influences.

What prevents Penumbra of being more than a very good and solid debut album is the relative inaccessibility of the material, and although there are no weak moments to be found, it is also hard to discern any really elevating parts. Playfellow can claim to have written a good and even quite original first CD which not only sports eight mostly long epics, but which also can be listened to in one take, as the featured songs all share the same ground feeling. Fans of sad indie rock from the Nineties should absolutely risk an ear.

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