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Mazzy Star
Seasons Of Your Day April Clare Welsh , October 10th, 2013 07:39

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Mazzy Star's 1990 debut She Hangs Brightly established them as intriguing purveyors of exquisite, soporific indie. 1993's So Tonight That I Might See was responsible for etching 'Fade Into You' onto the collective consciousness. And then there was 1996' Among My Swan, which bade us all farewell. Or so we thought.

Dream-pop may have been exhumed in recent years, but Mazzy Star's skill at restrained yet tortured feeling rather shows up much of the new breed. And scratching that seventeen-year itch without making any kind of song-and-dance about it (see Guardian journalist Dorian Lynskey's valiant attempt to get them to speak , the band slip back in very much the same way they left.

Seasons Of Your Day is a beautifully tender record in debt to the Southern Gothic. Ambling along a rugged coastline with the wind beating at your hair, kicking your heels against a mossy gravestone after dark, perhaps Keats best describes the languid mood in his poem The Human Seasons; "his soul has in it autumn when his wings he furleth close; contented so to look on mists in idleness - to let fair things pass by unheeded as a threshold brook."

Mazzy Star's trio of LPs mined a number of sounds, from country-noir, acoustic psychedelia, shoegaze, slowcore, lounge-pop, blues-folk and even a sprinkling of prog. This melding of styles is what took them far beyond dream-pop; nuanced and intricate, if you scratch beneath the surface there's always been an anthill of activity.

Co-written by Hope Sandoval and guitarist Dave Roback, the duo have retraced their country-noir steps here. With barely-there percussion, hunks of organ and shimmering guitars they've created a palpable sense of space within soft walls that throb and chime throughout.

Roback brings blues-laden riffs, febrile acoustic strumming and modest wig-outs – a hangover from his paisley underground beginnings - which add light to an album otherwise cloaked in darkness.

Hope Sandoval (nobody does sadness quite like her) maintains her signature sense of intimate detachment, wringing every last drop of emotion from her vocal chords with pain and anguish. The lament of 'California' is stripped bare of any perky sun-bleached ideals, replacing these instead with the romantically sublime – "I think I'll drift across the ocean now, clouds look so clear in your eyes" - minor chords on hand to drain the song of colour.

Roback's smouldering guitar jam on 'I've Gotta Stop' is followed by 'Does Someone Have Your Baby Now?', which rips out the beating heart of the ruby-lipped country siren and brings in a cold-as-ice misanthrope, cymbals crashing against acoustic slide guitar.

The LP's title track rests on the axis of wintry folk, warmed through by orchestral flourishes and xylophone, with Sandoval returning once again to the warped rural metaphor as she sings, "it's a misery that the rivers will never stream me back.." Elsewhere, there's 'Sparrow''s harpsichord trill and as the band rub their eyes awake with 'Lay Myself Down', the late great Bert Jansch makes a posthumous appearance on 'Spoon' for an impeccable 12-string duel.

Seasons of Your Day is a no-frills, no-fuss album from a band cocooned in their own impenetrable dreamworld, untouched by the passage of time.

Hardy
Oct 10, 2013 2:40pm

Gotta love that Guardian interview. Much as I adore them, Mazzy Star have never been anything but hilariously taciturn and po-faced when it comes to their muse and music. Mind you, I remember a Melody Maker interview with the Jesus and Mary Chain, in which it was noted that Sandoval and Reid both had each others' names biro-ed on their trainers, so maybe it wasn't a 24-hour sombre-fest. Mind you, difficult to imagine either of them wearing a party hat and whacking a pinata...

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Terry Flame
Oct 18, 2013 1:19pm

Great band; fine, nuanced record. Particularly love In the Kingdom (fantastic drums!). Why do the emotionally impaired always assume it's a glumfest if artists aren't launching into Ken Dodd's Happiness every other song?

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