Release Date: Sep 22, 2009
Record label: 4AD
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
I gotta admit, I'm disappointed the Big Pink didn't issue some sort of nuclear anti-Pitchfork screed when "Velvet" only snuck into the tail end of our Top Tracks of the Decade at #500. Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell could be the nicest guys in the world for all I know, but everything about the Big Pink up to this point has been about the huge, swaggering gesture-- their song names read like mission statements ("Crystal Visions", "Too Young to Love", "At War With the Sun"), the cover art for their singles are 4AD-gone-softcore (check the banned Dennis Cooper pic on the "Too Young to Love" single artwork-- your move, Bradford Cox) and, the only thing more full of itself than the band name is the album title. It's all loaded with the kind of unshakeable self-confidence that typically leads to daunting hype from Brit mags, ridiculously fun press quotes, and, just maybe, an album that justifies us giving a shit two months from now.
It's tempting to sneer that Milo Cordell and Robbie Furze would never have got an album released, and glowing press coverage to go with it, had they not been the most spectacularly well-connected band in indiedom. Tempting, but unfair. A Brief History of Love is a dazzlingly good debut, carefully mixing guitars and electronics in densely layered and carefully textured songs.
The Big Pink's A Brief History of Love is exactly the kind of album I wish had existed when I was 14. That's not a dig at the record; one of the more special things that a group can do musically is create a sound that appeals both to teenagers and adults. It's no mean feat to be obvious enough to get at the heart of the modern teenager, and at the same time cut through all of the protective bullshit that your average "musically conscious" individual purveys, so that they can appear to have "good taste.
On their debut album, A Brief History of Love, the Big Pink immerse themselves in all aspects of the first wave of shoegaze. The duo of Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell have doubtlessly made a complete study of the guitar music coming out of their native U.K. in the late '80s and early '90s and worked to build their sound into an impressive conglomeration of influences that's made up of components like the proggy excess of the Catherine Wheel, the guitar overload of My Bloody Valentine, the drum loops and dance elements of Chapterhouse, the dark, industrial sheen of Curve, and the epic sweep of the Verve but with plenty of modern production tricks.
Having been hyped to the hilt pretty much before anyone outside of East London had heard a note of their music, capital-based duo The Big Pink were always going to find themselves up against it convincing most mere mortals of their musical ingenuity and integrity. And that's before we talk about their backgrounds. Singer/guitarist Robbie Furze may have cut his teeth playing in Alec Empire's band and more recently been accused/cited as one of Lily Allen's 'close friends' by certain sections of the tabloid press, but when it comes to connections, he comes a very poor second to fellow bandmate Milo Cordell, whose father Denny was an integral part of the Island Records empire throughout the Sixties and Seventies.
Everything about the Big Pink screams imitation. From the name—a reference to the seminal debut album by Canadian rockers the Band (no, its not a coincidence check the name of their website)—to the cover art (The Pixies’ Surfer Rosa, maybe?), to their psychedelic-shoegaze sound, everything is in someway a rather obvious gesture to some renowned rock act or album of the past. This isn’t an erroneous decision, necessarily.
Shoegazing revival, anyone? This fashionable London duo are obsessed not with My Bloody Valentine, but their runty offspring: their debut is built from old Chapterhouse records..