Alcest - Shelter - 2014

ALCEST Shelter

1. Wings
2. Opale
3. La Nuit Marche Avec Moi
4. Voix Sereines
5. L’Eveil Des Muses
6. Shelter
7. Away
8. Délivrance

If a track is beaten, a change of nature might come in handy. Easier said than done. In the case of French shoegaze band ALCEST their latest album Shelter is less a radical change of sound but more the result of an ongoing process. The group around mastermind Neige is taken another step away from their metal roots and one more step towards the light. In this case ‘light’ means more dream pop and shoegaze appeal without denying the distinctive nature of the band’s previous releases.

Following 2012’s Les Voyages de L’Âme the new record Shelter marks a solid fourth longplayer, once again highlighting ALCEST ability to create monumental sound structures and mixing different influences. Following the spherical intro Wings, the easy floating Opale already shows the new direction Neige is taking for his project. His sweet vocals are embraced by a sea of fuzzy shoegaze guitar. And to stay in this metaphor – they are not drowning but rather floating in the waves. A very natural rhythm of the music unfolds.

You can already sense the influences quite clear here. COCTEAU TWINS, MY BLOODY VALENTINE and SLOWDIVE are the obvious ones. Not coincidence that Neige managed to get legendary SLOWDIVE singer Neil Halstead to join him on Away. And the tender title track on Shelter was produced by SIGUR RÓS singer Jónsí. In Iceland, of course. A spaced out piece that got its head deep in the clouds without having any attention to ever come back down. It clearly marks a highlight.

While the heavier side of ALCEST is way less present on Shelter it is still felt, for example in Voix Sereines. But fans of Neige’s earlier recordings should be aware that his project has clearly evolved over the past years. But by doing so he clearly managed to explore new musical territory and staying relevant. The road is once again open and you can decide whether you wanna walk it with ALCEST or not.

By exploring new musical territory ALCEST and their ever-floating shoegaze rock evolve into interesting new directions, making “Shelter” an album worth to be discovered.

NBHAP Rating: 3/5