Alcest
Spiritual Instinct


2.5
average

Review

by Robert Garland CONTRIBUTOR (297 Reviews)
October 30th, 2019 | 277 replies


Release Date: 10/25/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Alcest’s sixth installment relaxes the band’s soundscape.

Alcest’s Spiritual Instinct is a step back. For most fans of Alcest’s music, there’s a sense of longingness, balanced by light and the dark, but for all the hype for the masterminds who brought us the dark and enthralling Kodama, or the mesmerising Les Voyages De L' me, Alcest has released an album that rehashes the band’s penchant for shoegaze melody and occasional flashes of black metal furor while simultaneously simplifying their landscape into a pleasant, but entirely forgettable affair. Alcest may have released an album that relies on a contextual story, built on riffs and simple melodies, but it fails to shine beyond a few casual listens.

I want to be clear. Alcest’s Spiritual Instinct isn’t offensively bad. Rather it’s offensive in its mediocrity; it doesn’t meet the expectation of quality found in all of the albums that came before it. Whether it be the cleaner aesthetic of Shelter, or the reawakened blackgaze tendencies found in Kodama, Alcest’s 2019 effort just doesn’t achieve the same standards. On a first listen, “Les Jardins de Minuit” is unmistakably Alcest; the band’s ability to blend lush melodies and brooding palpable atmosphere is still here. But for all the usual Alcest-y tendencies, I can’t help but shake the feeling that Spiritual Instinct is running on a fully-fledged autopilot. Moments of introspection meet the same few vocal melody lines and get all too lost in similar guitar refrains. Alcest continue on this trajectory of washed soundscapes, without the build that would normally lift the album’s tracks. It’s these moments that complete the undermine the crescendos. “Protection” (much like the rest of the record) showcases the shifting tones of purple and grey that bleed into blacks and browns and are caught up in waves of whimsical riffs and overly simplistic percussive patterns. It’s this ‘whimsical’ and introspective feeling that rules how this album is perceived. Alcest’s music has lost some of its majesty, it’s luster, and in turn comes off cold and unmoving, frigid in its design. Alcest’s art washes together without definition of line or character.

Spiritual Instinct is more of a disappointment based completely off where Alcest left their fans after the acclaimed Kodama, which leaves a feeling of elation due to its overall dynamic display and atmospheric captivation, but it’s the album’s sheer lack of replay value and overall ability simply bleeds one track into another. Alcest’s 2019 piece lacks the variance and superb crescendos found in the pieces mentioned above. Singularily, most of these tracks are gorgeous displays of modern blackgaze (albeit simple) but together they compound into one. On occasion, the sense of autopilot is broken by Neige’s ferocious, near black metal screams or the lustful cleans that could easily be replaced by any aspect from any other track. When Neige’s melodies can be absently replaced with “la-la-la’s” there’s something to be said about the album’s lack of memorable parts. Even the album’s crystalline production partly prevents the listeners’ engagement; it’s less intimate and, in places, creates an atmosphere that feels forced and disingenuous.

The album’s second half suffers from some of the same issues found in the rest of the album, but surprisingly is made up of Spiritual Instinct’s stronger, albeit slightly off-kilter compositions. “L’Île des Morts” is a sampling of everything the Alcest moniker has offered throughout its career, but is offset by “Le Miroir”’s more graceful, soft dream pop. It’s subtle combinations like this that prevent Alcest’s sixth album from being completely uninspiring, clinging onto those elements which transfixed fans into a world of gazing glee. The album’s title track in particular is worth accolades, but is hampered by everything that came before it.

In regards to Alcest’s sixth studio outing as a whole, it’s packed with riffs, but lacks basic diversity and variance. Spiritual Instinct is too singular in its dynamics. It’s because of this that the repetition of Alcest’s signature nuance bleeds too well together preventing a memorable listen past first impression enjoyment. Spiritual Instinct isn’t a bad record by any means, but it’s definitely not a defining piece for a band that should be capitalising on the creativity found on previous albums.



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user ratings (291)
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
Scheumke (4.5)
Alcest's most accessible and focused effort to date....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
October 30th 2019


10583 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Big ol thanks to Ramon for putting his boot in my left cheek and Sitar for smackin the right.

conesmoke
October 30th 2019


6074 Comments


I really do love their melodies, the tremolo guitar ones, the clean vocals, they’re pretty nice I rkn

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
October 30th 2019


10583 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

They are nice, when they're done properly

Scheumke
October 30th 2019


1359 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review Nocte! I disagree obviously, but it's nice to see the other side of the coin.

Digging: Alcest - Spiritual Instinct

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
October 30th 2019


16931 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review dude, although i don't agree obvs ;)



Hey, this para: "Spiritual Instinct is more of a disappointment based completely off where Alcest left their fans after the acclaimed Kodama, which left fans feeling elation due to its overall dynamic display and atmospheric captivation, but it’s the album’s sheer lack of replay value and overall ability (what) simply bleeds into each other. "

Digging: Deerhoof - Deerhoof vs. Evil

Evreaia
October 30th 2019


5131 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

2.5?



Good review but the score is a bit off

Digging: Teitanblood - The Baneful Choir

kalkwiese
October 30th 2019


4291 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

He hit the wrong thing, it's actually a 4.5, obviously

Artuma
October 30th 2019


31291 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i actually agree with the review a lot. it all feels the same goddamn thing over and over, initially pleasant but fails to do much beyond that. but i guess alcest was never really all that captivating to me to begin with so i lose interest more quickly than others here

Digging: Have a Nice Life - Sea of Worry

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
October 30th 2019


10583 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Thanks Dewi, way to fuck up a perfectly okay sentence. Will fix after date night.



Please tell me you just hit the wrong ting




Nope, this is pretty blase.



Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
October 30th 2019


16931 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I wouldn't complain about a band I like doing the same thing. If what they did sounds amazing to me why would I want them to change?



Alcest is the perfect example.





Pikazilla
October 30th 2019


6277 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Alcest did do different things though.



Compare debut, Shelter and this.

kalkwiese
October 30th 2019


4291 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yea, as far as I can see all their albums have a different identity. This one is pretty close to Kodama though, even though it's different as well

Artuma
October 30th 2019


31291 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"I wouldn't complain about a band I like doing the same thing. If what they did sounds amazing to me why would I want them to change?"



exactly. to me it doesn't sound amazing so them doing the same thing gets tiring

Artuma
October 30th 2019


31291 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"Alcest did do different things though.



Compare debut, Shelter and this."



obviously the point is not this but rather what they do within one album

Egarran
October 30th 2019


13775 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is turning into a therapy session for Nocte.

Digging: Alcest - Spiritual Instinct

BrushedRed
October 30th 2019


3195 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is great

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
October 30th 2019


10583 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

What therapy, all I see are delusional sput buds in need of correction. All jokes aside, this is better than the Joker movie.

Pikazilla
October 30th 2019


6277 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Most things are.

DungeonBoy
October 30th 2019


6941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I thought the Joker was pretty good. What was wrong with it?

Digging: Alcest - Spiritual Instinct

kalkwiese
October 30th 2019


4291 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yea, Joker was awesome



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