Review Summary: My Bloody Valentine with a vocal-centric spin.
Watch that. If you can’t, I’ll explain, but it is definitely better to have the visual in mind. At the end of the Milky Way bar commercial, for just a split second, you see the image of a Milky Way bar splitting apart. In the center, there is a plethora of caramel oozing from the center of the chocolate bar. The caramel, so milky and smooth, gracefully falls towards the end of each chocolate bar. It is almost indescribable how well that caramel symbolizes the sound of Hope Sandoval and The Warm Inventions. The way the caramel oozes and dangles so slowly is equivalent to the trance-like, blurred state of mind this music can put the listener in. It is dreamy and beautiful.
Hope Sandoval has been around for over 15 years now, and for most of her career, she sang with the dream pop band Mazzy Star. After Mazzy Star broke up, she worked freelance, collaborating with acts such as Massive Attack, Air, and The Chemical Brothers. The 21st century saw the forming of this project with The Warm Inventions, who serve as a backup band headed by Colm O’Ciosoig of My Bloody Valentine. The two fit together perfectly, with the ambiguous yet still beautiful sound brought from My Bloody Valentine and Sandoval’s airy, warm voice that floats overtop of any instrument. The Warm Inventions are guitar based, although many other instruments, namely piano, harmonica, and strings find their way onto the album, along with little electronic inflections. They never sacrifice the mood of the album for some sort of technical music; some of the melodies are as simple as possible.
With such a defined mood, it is hard to remember specific tracks and remember what they sounded like. However, when listened to individually, some tracks do pull off the overall sound better than others. Drop
starts things off right with a lazy guitar chord progression, dainty bells, and simple bass. Sandoval’s voice floats overtop of the instruments perfectly, with a slurred style that sets the precedent for the rest of the album. Drop
may not be the most musically interesting, but it sets the atmosphere for the album perfectly and serves simply as an opening song. Still, the album reaches a new level of calm on Butterfly Mornings
. A great, very rubato guitar riff outlines the song, with sparse, airy vocals from Hope and slight harmonica. The calmness of the guitar riff and Hope’s singing is unparalleled by any song on the album. The guitar playing itself is superb and some of the better acoustic playing in a long time.
Short instrumentals break up the album into segments, the two being Baby Let Me
and Bavarian Fruit Bread
. Baby Let Me
is a piano piece that crescendos throughout, before slowing down and getting quieter right near the end. Meanwhile, Bavarian Fruit Bread
is an ambient piece, resembling Brian Eno’s work on his Ambient series. Despite the contrasting styles, they have the same effect, setting an atmosphere and giving a quick break from Sandoval’s vocals, although her voice is good enough that it isn’t really needed at all. The contrasting styles yet similar effects of the instrumentals sums up the general synopsis of the entire album well. Bavarian Fruit Bread has the string-led Feeling of Gaze
, the slightly groovy On the Low
, which would fit in at any Woodstock, and the growing Clear Day
, but the first few listens of the album probably won’t pick up on that. Bavarian Fruit Bread takes the laid back music of The Warm Inventions, which really closely resembles My Bloody Valentine, and puts it in more accessible terms with the vocals of Hope Sandoval. It conveys a lazy sunny day, sitting under a tree in the shade and just enjoying life. Or maybe a Milky Way bar. Who knows, take a listen and see what it means to you.
On the Low
Feeling of Gaze