Tuesday 14 December 2021

Deception Store - Pindaric Flights (2021)

Country: Italy
Style: Progressive Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 26 Nov 2021
Sites: Facebook | Instagram | Official Website | YouTube

Dreams are important to Marco Pentozzi, the main man behind Deception Store and their debut release, Pindaric Flights. The band name itself, drawn from the final metaphor in One More Time, is about opportunities that you gain by paying dreams but receive only disillusion. The album title is about dreams too, Pindaric flights being flights of fancy, open eyed dreams that drift from one thing to another, echoing the writing style of Pindar, a fanciful ancient Greek lyrical poet.

The band are Italian but the key influences are British, their style being that very accessible form of progressive rock pioneered by Pink Floyd. It's built on simple but highly effective grooves that mix a guitar, that knows well that notes not played are often as important as those that are used, with delicate piano and tasteful electronica and it's all performed with effortless elegance. When the voals show up, they're softly delivered but with a knowingness that beckons us into a story.

The Floyd influence is obvious from the opener, Lifetime, which is latter day Floyd, the style that dominated for them after David Gilmour took over from Roger Waters as the driving force in the band. That sound continues through a few more songs and never quite goes away, suggesting that they're clearly the most important influence to Pentozzi, who wrote the music and the lyrics that he sings as lead vocalist, as well as to Stefano Nicli who contributes the guitars. Even Teo Ederle's bass fits that, especially late on One More Time.

However, Floyd are not the only influence. Rock Star (Meteorite) wanders into Hawkwind territory, especially once it reaches its chorus, there's a moment in New Bad Day that simply screams early Marillion—it could even be Fish on backing vocals—and the title track begins with acoustic guitar very reminiscent of Dust in the Wind, even if the song grows into something else entirely. There's some singer/songwriter stuff here too, A New World reminding as much of Leonard Cohen as Pink Floyd or Marillion and Free adding a laid back Tom Waits at the piano vibe, sans vocals. Timeline, on the other hand, has an alternative feel that kicks in with the opening riff and never quite loses it.

It's certainly an album to explore, but the strongest material seems to me to be found early on or right in the middle. It starts well with Lifeline, firmly defines its boundaries, then expands beyond them to Rock Star (Meteorite), New Bad Day and Pindaric Flight. The first half is very strong. But, while it's not unusual for a title track to be the standout, the album's obvious highlight, it doesn't help when it's a pinnacle from which the rest of the album descends. The second half isn't bad, but it isn't a patch on the first and it's where songs just drift away from me.

Pindaric Flight doesn't do that because it stays fascinating all the way. It grows impeccably, with a few different sections expanding it. The first three minutes build off that acoustic guitar, flowing vocals alongside it and a gorgeous echoey guitar in counter. Then it shifts tone to a much heavier, if not faster, approach that lends the song some real urgency. But A couple of minutes later, that all falls away so our attention forces back to the vocals again, with more gorgeous distant guitar, before it shifts us into the groove that we think will take us home but doesn't. It's wonderful.

I don't want to put down the second half too much, especially as the closer, E Immagino Se, which is the only song to be sung in the band's native Italian, is decent, with a solid contribution from a guest vocalist, Roberta Staccuneddu, who also elevated I Do It My Way early on. It's merely a 6/10 half following a 9/10 track that ends a 8/10 half. The result is still a 7/10 album but I'm more likely to skip half of it in the order it's presented than if the sides had been shuffled somewhat.

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