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Pink Mountaintops
Outside Love Julian Marszalek , May 7th, 2009 09:28

With their third album, Pink Mountaintops have posed an intriguing conundrum. The appearance of Outside Love sees this side-project of Black Mountain's Stephen McBean taking the lead in terms of the two bands' full-length releases. So, are we to assume that Black Mountain have been relegated to the status of extra-curricular activities? Surely not. . . .

Whichever way the wind blows, Pink Mountaintops have fashioned a mighty fine listening experience. Whereas Black Mountain's dense, psychedelic stew seamlessly blends two parts prime-time Black Sabbath to one part Pink Floyd in their finest space cadet uniforms, Pink Mountaintops seek inspiration in West Coast harmonies, the Wall of Sound and Lou Reed's more considered moments.

The constant theme that runs throughout is love, and 'Axis: Throes Of Love' sets its stall out early. As guitars fuzz and crackle against the backdrop of drums that evoke a Spectorish vision, celestial voices ask, almost plead, "How deep is your love?" The answers aren't always pleasant: it "was strong but now it's flown . . . was cheap and made of plastic."

Yet elsewhere there's hope and true romance. 'Execution' follows in a similar aural vein as McBean declares, "I will fight to stay your execution/I would die to save your soul" and in many respects, Outside Love is an underground music fan's wet dream: heartache, romance and plenty of signposts to the source material. But what stops this from being mere homage is a heartfelt honesty and baring of the soul that's in all too short supply from other artists.

The album benefits from deep textures. The title track and 'While We Were Dreaming' are bound by a shimmering tension that flickers with a powerful urge to live and the contributions from the likes of Sophie Trudeau (A Silver Mt. Zion), Josh Stevenson (Jackie O Motherfucker) and Black Mountain's Amber Webber and Joshua Wells amongst many, many others are sterling throughout.

There's even time for more outré, heads-down moments. 'The Gayest Of Sunbeams' is a terrific collision of motorik beats and dumb-ass two-note riffing that acts as a runny-nosed, leather-clad counterpoint to Black Mountain's 'No Satisfaction'.

Much like its subject matter, Outside Love proves to be a journey of varied pace. By turns exhilarating, giddy and in need of attention, this is an album that makes in equal measure just what you'll take from it. And really, who needs more than that?