Original epigone of gothic grandeur continue to tune into here and now.
You can’t accuse Porl King of following in the wake of earlier English purveyors of morbid pleasures but not of inconsistency in terms of style or presentation. With his ensemble’s 2019 return “Seems Like Forever” harking back – at least, graphically if not sonically – to the very start, to 1991’s “An Eye For The Main Chance” the anniversary of which must be greeted with this album. Despite its custom violet light and title, there’s nothing truly enigmatic about the record, except for its protagonist’s deliberate indecisiveness that’s set in on taut opener “Shock” where “I’m out, I’m in” signals a strange, limbo-like balance, to finale “Always Always” where the promise of eternal gloom – “cryptic and vague” – sounds rather sarcastic. Factor in the “satire becomes kinda self-aware in black” acknowledgment, and the velvet electronica the ten new songs are steeped in will feel compromised by their artistic relevance to our times.
Jangly guitars at the fore, “Valiant Try” may replace lazy questioning with urgency, especially when stripped to bare rhythm and quasi-indifferent voice, and “Soon” should bring about a shade of existential crisis, but the unexpectedly emotional “Remember (Don’t)” restores static pondering, adding a plea to it, after the ivories drenched “With This (I’m Done) in cold dance dynamics – and, unfortunately, this groove, wrapped in different tunes, rarely varies further on. Sure, the bass-spanked “Doesn’t Bode Well” accelerates the momentum and raises social issues to the lyrical surface before the glacial, piano-sprinkled “Smoke & Mirrors” directs the drift towards personal affairs, only the overall effect which the “Cryptology” pieces leave is one of major understatement. Or, perhaps, the album is simply setting the scene for a definitive, magnum opus to mark the anniversary of the band’s debut offering.