Skinny Pelembe – Dreaming Is Dead Now

Skinny Pelembe's magpie nature is at the expense of his songwriting on his debut album, leaving the whole thing feeling like a missed opportunity

Album Review by Aidan Reynolds | 24 May 2019
  • Skinny Pelembe – Dreaming Is Dead Now
Album title: Dreaming Is Dead Now
Artist: Skinny Pelembe
Label: Brownswood Recordings
Release date: 24 May

Skinny Pelembe (Doya Beardmore to his friends) sets up his debut album by drifting lazily into earshot like a half-drunk summer afternoon, but the lyrics are vaguely defeated: 'Gonna buy a car today / Drive it north and burn it out / Gonna take the job today / Make me happy and content'. It’s a nice juxtaposition that also feeds straight into the groove of album highlight No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish, pulling in several directions at once as dub, psych and threadbare folk fight to take control.

This is emblematic of the whole of Dreaming Is Dead Now – both for better and worse – as nothing is ruled out and no idea left unexplored. It’s incredibly refreshing to hear a musician so devoted to his own creative process, stretching his wings unencumbered by commercial expectation. However, it also makes for an LP that cannot solidify into a coherent whole.

Aside from the genres mentioned above, there exists within this record hip-hop, shoegaze, ambient, funk and R'n'B. Tracks like Spit / Swallow and Ten Four, Good Friend assemble the bones of something exceptional but are left to drown in reverb or drift out of reach. It’s undoubtedly a true document of a markedly eclectic artist but it also feels uncertain, afraid to push too far in any direction lest he give too much away. Ultimately, Beardmore’s magpie nature comes at the expense of his songwriting, leaving the whole thing feeling like a missed opportunity.

Listen to: No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish, Gonna Buy a Car Today, Spit / Swallow