Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Big Pink - A Brief History of Love (LP, 4AD)

I have been AWOL again, unfortunately other commitments and an elevated state of repose set in. However, if there's any band out there who can help shake off a state of self-imposed somnolence, it would have to be the The Big Pink.

A Brief History of Love? That's a mighty big undertaking. Despite being named after The Band's seminal Music From Big Pink, there's no folk-rock here. The Big Pink's own musical palette of influences is mainly drawn from shoegaze's more cryptic qualities. Comparisons have been drawn far and wide with The Jesus And Mary Chain, but to my mind the duo of Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell sound a lot like The XX (almost eerily similar on the title track).

However, on repeated listens the broad strokes of shoegaze peel away to reveal muscular subtleties. There may be shades of lad-rock in Furze’s inebriated croon, but it’s Milo Cordell’s progressive electronic leanings at play that come to the surface. This is an album created from a sensual palette of sound, with the emotional resonances deriving from the method of its construction. The album's glorious opener "Crystal Visions" closes with a climactic tirade of distortion detonations and points to a hefty, guitar-laden album; that is until it's met by "Too Young To Love"'s improbable breakbeat funkiness, and then by the album's soon-to-be terrace anthem, "Dominos" (trust me, you'll be humming the line "These girls fall like dominoes..." for days to come). "A Brief History Of Love" - a gorgeous duet between Furze and backing singer Jo Apps - would be the highpoint of many an album were it not for some of the exceptional highs that have passed here beforehand.

To be fair, the album is not perfect. There's a dispiriting drop in standards towards the end of the album, with pedestrian fillers. However, the high points of the album are definitely worth it. Yes, there are weaker tracks towards the end, but this album's best moments are the music equivalents of a beating heart.

No comments: