Capital Records, 1993
I've heard Mazzy Star described as "ethereal", but I think that just means that they have a female singer. It's actually an inventive mixture of styles - country, blues, shoe-gazing, psychedelic, even though the individual songs are all fairly simple and sparsely produced. Hope Sandoval's voice is not sickly-sweet, more like dark and sneering. By psychedelic I'm partially thinking of early Pink Floyd - there's a slide guitar sound they use on "Fade into You" that Gilmour was fond of in the early days. With a droning single-note organ, "Mary of Silence" reminds me a little of Floyd's "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun", but this sounds more like it could have been a Doors song (The End?).
The other great track comes straight afterwards, and it's a contrast. "Five String Serenade" is a simple, honest folky tune. They're very tasteful with the violin accompaniment here that eases in gradually. It would have been easy to make this too sentimental. The heavy grinding blues song "Wasted" is quite powerful, although it puts me in mind of John Lennon singing "I wanna die...". This is followed by a haunting and depressing finish with "Into Dust".
A lot of these songs would go well in a typical scene from a David Lynch movie, where the singer in a white dress sways in front of a red curtain, with a dancing dwarf thereabouts. I think it's the country-sounding "Blue Light" that gave me this image, with a slight hint of the Julee Cruise stuff from Twin Peaks. I don't know what they're like live, but I imagine Sandoval doing all sorts of body contortions as her voice swoops around. I'm probably wrong though.
March 5, 2004