Selofan - Animal Mentality

Animal Mentality
Fabrika Records

Longstanding Greek duo Selofan’s newest LP is one defined by a focused sound and mood, to both its benefit and detriment. Even more so than preceding record Partners In Hell, Dimitris Pavlidis and Joanna Pavlidou’s style of coldwave is delivered in a blunt, uncompromising fashion with foggy, funereal synths enveloping almost the entirety of Animal Mentality‘s 37 minutes, leaving only the briefest of gaps for melody and adornment.

Much like darkwave, the original French coldwave from which Selofan takes their cue got by on compositional minimalism and atmospheric maximalism. That’s an operating principle Selofan double down on here. Tracks like “Lucille” and “Glassplitter” arrive, play out, and depart with saturnine solemnity, their walls of crystalline, syncopated synths never wavering and only ornamented by minimal guitar, and Joanna and Dimitri’s vocals holding to lamenting or stoic tones.

The trade-off of this unremitting bleakness is that the handful of flourishes which Selofan do allow for stand out by virtue of contrast. At times Joanna’s vocals hit the same wounded, wistful register as Anka Wolbert’s on Xymox’s immortal Medusa. Whether “Love’s Secret Game”‘s use of a descending chromatic scale is meant to connote “The Phantom Of The Opera” or not, the sort of haunted mansion and mist-shrouded courtyards it evokes is on-brand with the rest of the record.

As unremitting as Animal Mentality is, Selofan’s approach of a short run-time with only eight slightly longer than usual songs works in its favor. No one track in and of itself runs the risk of sounding like a pale imitation of a preceding one, and while the album finishes before overstating its welcome, the stately pace of each track means that none of them feel rushed or underdeveloped. Its cleaving to such a pure and austere form of coldwave may well be a non-starter to many – there’s no one single track which transcends the ethos the duo establish in the opening seconds of “Sticky Fingers” – but folks with a yen for fare this steely have a unified and sustained effort in it to enjoy.

Buy it.