Sunday, 5 January 2014

Mazzy Star - Seasons Of Your Day

Album review by simon@thesoundofconfusion.com


Music made by a band for the love of making music only - it's always going to be heroic and it's always going to have a hold on people with its authenticity. While we cannot know the intentions of Mazzy Star, it certainly sounds as if this obsessive love for a unique musical and melodic perfection always was, and still is, their motive. When you combine this with some of the most deft, luscious and sublime musicianship which spans not just this band, but Opal, My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus & Mary Chain, and not least the compositions of the front-singer with beauties like 'Suzanne' and 'Bluebird' under the guise of Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions, (particularly evident in this album's offering 'Common Burn') then you have something quite, quite delectable. 'In The Kingdom' is a defining, stand-out, opening tune with organ, slide guitar, and a temper like a band who are resolutely acknowledging that they are finally in love with the blues and the sullen arts. Lyrically it may make allusions to a self-awareness of their own influence upon other bands, for they are surely aware of it by now, but it is clever, lacking in arrogance and totally sublime: “I took that train into the city, y’know the one that goes under the bridge, I thought I was listening, to a band, played a song that changed me”.

It is very hard to box or define Mazzy Star, they can be variously described. Most of their songs sound as if they were written as folk songs then turned into something more despairing, more sultry. It is not so much their albums which ignited everybody, but the fact that each one had at least three or four songs which were utterly to die for. 'Halal', 'I've Been Let Down', 'Five String Serenade', 'Into Dust'. This album is no different in those respects. Another truly impressive thing about this work is that instead of sounding 17 years older they sound about 5 years older. I'm not quite sure how they achieved this, but the production is, as always, exemplary. Mark Radcliffe has a number of times described them as one of the most influential bands of the '90s, but apart from the radio success of the most unbelievably sad love song that was 'Fade Into You' and the duet Hope did with The Jesus & Mary Chain, they didn't really get all that much attention. As the years went by however, people have evidently "found" them and become enchanted by the dusky folk and blues they recorded. They caused countless people to pick up slide guitars and tambourines.

Let's talk about 'Lay Myself Down' though. The title does not quite confer the exact appeal of this track - it has a real bounce to it like the very best of their tracks, and a sexiness. It is simply to die for. While it has possibly the sweetest chorus I have heard for many a year it is sultry too. Mazzy Star always have blended the two though. Released as a single with the almost equally brilliant 'Common Burn', it is very much hit material but tinged perpetually with that casual obscurity, '90s indie feel, and blues. It is simply all the more gorgeous because of it. This is a truly great piece of work, like their others were, but now with even more of a sense of evocation and blues edge. Ideally you would listen to this through an imperfect radio in a smoky room with shadows falling about you - maybe some blue roses in a vase on the dark windowsill.
"Count your skies in the dark, and turn your head around".







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