Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mazzy Star: "Seasons of Your Day" (album review)

It's been 17 years since we last had a new album from Mazzy Star.  On September 24th, the duo of David Roback and Hope Sandoval will release Seasons for Your Day, a collection of ten brand new psychedelic dream pop ballads.
'Fun' is a word that was rarely employed when describing Mazzy Star's music.  It's sombre and methodical, but yet somehow still visceral.

Mazzy Star were always at their best when they were a partnership.  That's what made She Hangs Brightly a much stronger and more engaging album than the Sandoval-focused Among My Swan.

The lead-off track, "In the Kingdom", is just the partnership one hopes for.  Sandoval's vocals are warm and alluring as Roback lays down a tremendous blues guitar riff.  That's replicated with the record's bookend "Flying Low", with a nasty dirty Delta blues rhythm, complete with harmonica.

Things fall apart quickly from there however.  The smoldering guitar on "California" dominates an absolutely flat vocal delivery.  The weepy guitar on "I've Gotta Stop" does a better job of singing than the seemingly absent vocalist.

Two tracks, "Common Burn" and "Lay Myself Down", were previously released as a single in 2011.  They actually represent the best and worst of the record.  "Common Burn" is a glacially-paced twinkling underpowered bore, while the jangle of "Lay Myself Down" adds some much welcomed pep.

On more than one occasion, Roback's guitar emulates acoustic grunge rock.  In particular, "Spoon" and "Does Someone Have Your Baby Now?", sounds eerily similar to Chris Cornell's "Seasons", from the Singles soundtrack.

As you listen to Seasons of Your Day more and more, one can't help but wonder why Sandoval even agreed to make this record.  She phones much of it in, wasting a solid performance from Roback.

Mazzy Star play The Danforth Music Hall in Toronto on November 16th.

Best tracks: "In the Kingdom", "Lay Myself Down"

Track listing for Seasons of Your Day:
  • In the Kingdom
  • California
  • I've Gotta Stop
  • Does Someone Have Your Baby Now?
  • Common Burn
  • Seasons of Your Day
  • Lay Myself Down
  • Sparrow
  • Spoon
  • Flying Low

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