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Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions
Through The Devil Softly Julian Marszalek , October 8th, 2009 04:19

Hope Sandoval is a chanteuse who finds herself caught between a rock and hard place. Eight years after the release of Bavarian Fruit Bread, her first post-Mazzy Star collection, she finds herself at a crossroads: does she defy expectations by breaking out from the slowcore delivery that made her name to paint from a new sonic palette? Or will she beguile once again with the late night drawl where the lines between consciousness and the world of dreams isn't so much rubbed out as smeared like running mascara? Ahhh, c'mon. You already know the answer to that one. . . .

And yet what Sandoval lacks in surprise, she more than makes up for in setting. This is after-hours music; tunes for the wee, small hours where the flicker of candles throws low shapes against the wall, the night shifts into a gear of its own and the half-empty wine glasses across the tables are rimmed with lipstick traces. She may well be in her comfort zone but then again, so are you.

The fact is, Hope Sandoval could sing the selections from whatever pizza menu had been chucked through her door that evening and the effect would still be the same: out and out seduction. Granted, while the album lacks a 'Fade Into You', there's still much amongst the hazy, narcotic licks here that, taken on its own terms, is deeply sincere and heartfelt. 'Fall Aside' and 'For The Rest Of Your Life' are heavy-lidded beauties that can claim a lineage back to the Spacemen 3 of The Perfect Prescription; and the windswept and near-minimalist framework upon which they hang almost cry out for a guest appearance from the gravel-voiced master of the form, Mark Lanegan.

Almost but not quite, because this is Sandoval's show; aided and abetted by My Bloody Valentine drummer Colm O' Ciosog (and who would've expected the rhythmic engine room of that sonic onslaught to have made such a U-turn?), Sandoval reels you in in a way that so few singers can. As characterised by 'Trouble' — the album's undisputed highlight — this is music for stoners, drunks, the heartbroken, romantics and anyone who's found solace in The Velvet Underground's eponymous album at 3am when the ashtrays are overflowing and the drink has run out. Those long evenings have just become a shade easier to live with.