Monday, 23 September 2013

Mazzy Star - Seasons of Your Day


"Music for lovers, music for broken hearts," - the affiliated description to Mazzy Star's fourth album Seasons of Your Day. It's been 16 years since Among My Swan was released on Capitol Records. Instead of going through the 90s all over again, Mazzy Star are releasing their fourth album independently on their own label. They're following in the footsteps and/or advice of Colm Ó Cíosóig of My Bloody Valentine, who also plays bass with Mazzy Star. Their ambiguity can only grow as the apprehensive vocalist Hope Sandoval is still hesitant live on stage. Sandoval is the link between three great bands, Mazzy Star, The Jesus & Mary Chain, and My Bloody Valentine. Her vocals and emotions were lent to William Reid for TJ&MC's stunning "Sometimes Always" from 1994. Not quite the four-chord progressions of the slowcore Mazzy Star, but still... truly mesmerising Sandoval vocals. 

Seasons of Your Day is for the everyday Mazzy Star fan. You don't have to be in to dream pop to enjoy a Mazzy Star album, hell; you don't need to be in the mood for anything, because these guys know how to entertain with the littlest motion possible. Pre-release single "California" is all about the unexciting and unpredictable delivery of acoustic instrumentation. At five and a half minutes, "California" resembles a long standing tradition of drawn out Mazzy Star instrumentals, with Sandoval doing her lovely vocal twang as always. It’s almost a given, after all these years Mazzy Star would be doing the same material. "In The Kingdom" introduces the listener to what they've been missing since 1996s Among My Swan. Four chords, an electric organ, slide guitar, breezy vocals... compassionate percussion; the listener has made it to heaven. It's all included with three verses of ambiguous Sandoval lyricism: "I took that train into the city; you know the one that goes under the bridge. I thought I was listening to a band play a song that changed me." Life moves in slow motion while listening to Mazzy Star, Seasons of Your Day is just another tick in the clock of life. It's like listening to a compilation of happy moments, over the backdrop of sunset imagery and cardigans - like "I've Gotta Stop". 

"Sparrow" dates back to the 90s, as unreleased material. Some like to call it a hiatus, well bands make breaking up, or parting ways a big deal, to enhance solo careers and such... Well Mazzy Star never publicly declared 'hiatus', Sunday critics can write "Return after a 16 year hiatus" all they want, but they don't know the truth behind the word, and behind the band. Mazzy Star never decided to stop making music together, or writing music. Their paths crossed during those 16 years... Nothing materialised as a fourth album. There was no contract bearing down on Mazzy Star to make a new album, they were relived to get out of their deal. With this logic, Radiohead are on a two year on-going hiatus since The King of Limbs. Sandoval sings: "You used to say, I've got a heart like a sparrow," with simplistic slide guitar and a thumping bass riff - something of naturality with Mazzy Star.

The double A side single released in 2011 "Common Burn / Lay Myself Down"; feature either side of the self-titled track. The former is the stronger of the two, which includes harmonica, louder electric guitar and atmosphere, something Seasons of Your Day is lacking somewhat. The latter, "Lay Myself Down", is more of a blues jam, using the slide guitar to great effect. This middle section acts as the high, the passage of play that’s the most exciting musically, with either side's acoustic material taking the reigns as the emotionally gifted and connected - "Does Someone Have Your Baby Now" / "Sparrow".

Bert Jansch is a guest guitarist on the penultimate track "Spoon". Sandoval has worked with Jansch in the past, first on Sandoval's 2001 album Bavarian Fruit Bread, and then in 2002 on Jansch's 2002 album Edge of a Dream with "All This Remains". Having Jansch come in and play guitar for Mazzy Star is something of a celebration and influence to both core members. "Spoon" is one of the longest track on the album, and most likely to send the listener in to a 60s psychedelic daze with the slide guitar. It's a sweet penultimate track, linking to Seasons of Your Day's finale "Flying Low". Mazzy Star ends their fourth album in style, keeping true to their roots.

Seasons of Your Day is the rightful fourth album. It's the album Mazzy Star could have released in 1998, 2005, or 2010. Mazzy Star's music dates well, because it's down to earth simple relaxing music for everyday people. The guitar skill of David Roback is evident on tracks like "California" and "Lay Myself Down", there’s no dispute about Mazzy Star delivering. It's all about how they go about their business, and it's got to be said; they've done a great job. Seasons of Your Day isn't overly complicated; it isn’t repetitive like some Mazzy Star listeners may conclude. It's the work of musician performing the music of their past, the unreleased material, and the forward thinking songs. Instead of aiming for something different, finding a new sound (Pixies - EP1). It doesn’t work that way in the modern music business. If Beefheart and Zappa were around today, they could break the mould. That’s two well-known avant-garde musicians, whose fans understand and expect the different. Mazzy Star are very distinctive, they can't suddenly release an album that would compare them to My Bloody Valentine... Seasons of Your Day is the calm return. The expected follow-up album to Among My Swan - and now it's time for tours and more material.
~Eddie 

8.2

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