Release Date: Sep 24, 2013
Record label: Rhymes of an Hour Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Everything Hope Sandoval releases is exquisite. Everything. Similar to Richard D. James, Sandoval seems ambivalent about releasing her work to the general public. She’s never stopped writing and singing all these 20-some years, but the portions, however sparsely released, of these efforts that ….
Thank god for consistency. In a world spinning much too fast, Mazzy Star remain a warmly glowing constant in the night sky—always hanging brightly, a musical totem you can follow to the ends of the earth…or at least the end of I-15..
When The Pastels released their gorgeous Slow Summits LP back in May, I was taken aback at how they’d managed to return from a sixteen-year absence with minimal suggestion of rust. That Mazzy Star have pulled off a similar feat despite being missing a year longer, in terms of recorded output, is testament to the honesty of their music; if you think about it, if a band write songs in a genuine and sincere manner, they shouldn’t really struggle to return from any length of time away, so long as making music equates to being themselves. That’s plainly the case on Seasons of Your Day, a record that takes the sonic characteristics that defined the first three Mazzy Star records and amplifies them.
Mazzy Star's first album since 1996's Among My Swan, 2013's Seasons of Your Day reunites guitarist David Roback and singer Hope Sandoval for a set of hazy, psychedelic songs that bring an unexpected country influence to their familiar dreamy sound. Having broken through with the dream pop anthem "Fade into You" off 1993's So Tonight That I Might See, Mazzy Star became the poster children for a specific brand of atmospheric, melancholic pop that combined the fairy-like qualities of '60s folk, the lo-fi melodicism of the Velvet Underground, and the fuzzy guitar atmospherics of early-'90s shoegaze. Sandoval, with her twee elfin features and smoky, cherubic coo, also became something of an alt-rock sex symbol, the Astrud Gilberto of the college rock crowd.
Mazzy Star may be the best band in history never to have influenced anybody. Their narcotic blues is so anchored in Hope Sandoval’s honeyed whisper that there’s simply no point in copying them. On their first new album in 17 years, they seem to have frozen time: Sandoval’s voice remains an indescribably beautiful thing, while David Roback’s guitar provides haunting backing – the spectral slide intro to ‘Flying Low’ a particular highlight.
After what seems like forever, the unique talents of ‘goth-psychers’ Mazzy Star return with their first album since 1996’s Among My Swan. Seasons Of Your Day sees all original members appearing at various points with additional contributions coming from Hope Sandoval’s partner Colm Ó Cíosóig (he of My Bloody Valentine fame) on drums and the late Bert Jansch. Formed in 1989, the California band made a name for themselves with their minimalist music, built around the haunting voice of Sandoval and David Roback’s guitar.
Mazzy Star went away in 1996 and even a few years ago there was no reason to think they would return. They made three very solid records that explored a small handful of musical ideas and those records seemed to say all the group had to to say. In that sense (and a few others—both were on Rough Trade in 1991), they bring to mind Galaxie 500, another band that created slow, expansive, and gorgeously atmospheric music.
Hope Sandoval’s narcoleptic air, her drowsy voice and waifish demeanor, infused three albums by this loose lineup, under the direction of guitarist David Roback, between 1990 and 1996. Roback’s previous band, Rain Parade, inspired many in the Los Angeles area with their own subdued, yet insistent, update on psychedelic textures as part of the Paisley Underground movement. Sandoval, then a teenager and a fan of the band, joined the successor to Rain Parade, Opal.
2013 has been kind of spooky. What started as a cool run of surprises, with new David Bowie and Daft Punk and My Bloody Valentine, went overboard at some point and gave us new Boards of Canada and new Pixies and a Neutral Milk Hotel tour and The Replacements headlining what was essentially a fully imagined version of Warped Tour. Unless you are talking about Arcade Fire, very little can get the music fan excited in the same way as years past.
If "In the Kingdom" – an organ-driven gem off Mazzy Star's new, 17-year-wait LP – seems to echo indie darlings Beach House, it's because the sound blueprinted by these L.A. dream-pop somnambulists looms large over a new generation of reverb fanatics. That sound is now leaner and richer: Hope Sandoval's singing is less processed, more ornamented, and while David Roback still trips out on electric guitar (see "I've Gotta Stop"), he's stepped it up on his acoustic.
According to the duo, Mazzy Star took 17 years between their last album and Seasons Of Your Day because they just "didn't feel like" releasing any of the music they were working on. For unknown reasons, they now do feel like releasing some music, and it sounds pretty much exactly like everything else they've ever done. Nevertheless, their peculiar brand of woozy narcotic Americana always had a timeless quality that, thankfully, persists.
Mazzy Star's debut album was an anomaly: an indie heartland record that eschewed the norms of 1990. No bolted-on dance beats, no up-for-it attitude, just sad, lonely, gentle music. But what stood out 23 years ago doesn't surprise now, when we've been through so many permutations of sad, lonely, gentle music springing from the same well. So familiar have Mazzy Star's devices become that their fourth album – Hope Sandoval's voice still smoky and subdued, David Roback's guitar still lazy and unshowy – summons comparisons you could never have imagined.
Missing for 17 years, presumed broken up, heavy-lidded Californian outfit Mazzy Star start their fourth album pretty much where they left off, around the time of 1996's Among My Swan. Hope Sandoval – latterly of her own band, the Warm Inventions – can still summon the sultry detachment that elevated Mazzy Star to cult-dom on their 1990 debut; Beach House are clearly fans. Secret weapon David Roback, meanwhile, plays significantly more acoustic guitar on these songs, like on the terrific Does Someone Have Your Baby Now?.
You know what Mazzy Star sounds like? This is that. In the ninth episode of The Simpsons’ twenty-third season – 2012’s flash-forward 'Holidays of Future Passed' – there’s a scene in which Homer visits a cryogenically frozen Abe and awakens him to wish him a Happy Christmas. Naturally Abe’s mind is frozen at the same point as his body, so upon reawakening he continues with one of his cantankerous rants.
Reviewing a new release from reunited favorites can be a nightmarish enough scenario for a music writer: you grow up to the tune of a band that called it quits while you were still in car seats, and by the time they refuel the engine once more, you’ve got the privilege of sharpening the knives. It’s an unhappy situation for every party involved, and so it is for Mazzy Star. I won’t soon disown the day I pulled So Tonight That I Might See out of a musty “Used” bin and spent a whole winter in college absorbed in its warm, hazy embrace, but it’s hard to greet Seasons of Your Day as much more than a sleepy shell of that band.
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.
You don’t even know how much you’ve missed Mazzy Star until you hear the band’s lustrous new album. Like an autumnal breeze right out of 1993, “Seasons of Your Day” stays true to Hope Sandoval and David Roback’s timeless aesthetic, which hinges on the notion that they draw you closer by keeping you at bay. You can look, but don’t touch.
Mazzy Star Seasons of Your Day (Rhymes of an Hour) Mazzy Star's reunion hasn't exactly prompted parades. Hope Sandoval kept the nocturnal reverb for her Warm Inventions band, and despite the ubiquity of her former act's "Fade Into You," the Santa Monica group broke up at juncture of wider appeal. Moving dolefully between chiming psychedelia and anesthetizing folk never demanded much of its adherents.