In the 1990s a lot of interesting things happened when it came to popular music. One of those many things was the emergence of bands that, largely inspired by the work of Velvet Underground in the 60’s and the subsequent pre-punk New York scene of the 70’s, tried to give a new spin to the idea of a pop song with a rock sound. . American groups like Yo La Tengo, Luna or Pavement are good examples of this move, unintentionally responsible for the fact that today we use the confusing and lazy term indie rock to encompass a very different amount of music.
Of these groups there was one that, taking inspiration from the more psychedelic and climatic side of the Velvet, also brought together combined influences from British shoegaze and twee pop and the soundtracks of David Lynch films.
Mazzy Star, the duo made up of songwriter, guitarist and producer David Roback and songwriter and singer Hope Sandoval, showed in three albums released between 1990 and 1996 how all these things could be combined in a very personal way. Those three albums rounded out a proposal where the sound and the climates were fundamental but they did not leave aside the melodies and the pop song format at all.
The group was never massively successful, except for the song “Fade Into You” released in 1993, included on the album. So Tonight That I Might See, but it proved to be quite influential.
When 16 years later they returned with a new album, those who had not paid attention to the band at the time could see that their proposal had been widely listened to by people like Beach House or Lana del Rey.
Much of the personality of Mazzy Star is given by the voice of Hope Sandoval, capable of showing both intimacy and distance. If the group can be considered an indirect descendant of Velvet Underground, Sandoval owes its lineage, consciously or unconsciously, to the French singers of the 1960s and to jazz vocalists like Blossom Dearie. That combination of “distant emotion” achieves very captivating moments like the song “Look on Down from the Bridge” included in the soundtrack of the final episode of The Sopranos and in one of the best chapters of the great animated series Rick and Morty.
During the decade and a half that Mazzy Star was inactive, Sandoval collaborated with very diverse artists such as The Jesus and Mary Chain, Massive Attack, Chemical Brothers or Air. He also formed a new band with My Bloody Valentine drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig, called Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions.
The project released an album in 2001 called Bavarian Fruit Bread and another in 2009 titled Through the Devil Softly.
Following that line of taking a long time between album and album, Sandoval has just released a new album with The Warm Inventions.
Until The Hunter continues the line of the duo’s two previous albums, focusing on the more folk and acoustic side of Sandoval with Mazzy Star. The almost sole exception is the very psychedelic “Into The Trees” that opens the album and lasts for nine minutes. that depending on the mood in which the song is heard, they can seem short in their climatic development.
The other songs sometimes seem like a continuation (not a copy) of Seasons of Your Day, the last and quite recent -2013- Mazzy Star album, which is not a demerit at all, on the contrary. There are other songs like “Let Me Get There”, sung in duet with Kurt Vile or “Isn’t It True”, which musically expose a luminous side, little present in the music of both duos.
Sandoval, despite her scant and scattered discography, shows that she is not only a great singer and songwriter, but also an artist who in these three decades has been much more influential than is generally recognized.
By Andrés Torrón