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Big Pink - A Brief History of Love

  by Chris O'Toole

published: 11 / 9 / 2009

Big Pink - A Brief History of Love
Label: 4AD
Format: CD


Stylish, but unsasisfactory debut album from much hyped electronic duo and recent 4AD signing, the Big Pink

While perhaps a surprise choice to those who know 4AD as the home of such celebrated acts as the Pixies, the Birthday Party and Future of the Left, the ethereal electronics, sheer guitars and sparking drum machines of the Big Pink are in appropriate company. Drawing from the work of elder statesmen Cocteau Twins, as well as the more contemporary His Name is Alive, Stereolab and TV on the Radio, 'A Brief History of Love' fits snugly into the label's eclectic, electronic cannon. Composed by duo Milo Cordell and Robbie Furz it is a remarkably cohesive effort for a debut record. But this is perhaps explained by the musical heritage of the two key protagonists. As the impresario of the Merok record label, Cordell can claim to have had a hand in the rise of both the (Mercury prize winning) Klaxons and Crystal Castles, while Furz moved in more industrial circles with Panic DHH and digital hardcore godfather Alec Empire. Both have been honing their musical instincts for years and here finally lay claim to their own sound. Despite their disparate linage, both, however, are based in London where they have augmented their textured sound with musicians Akiko Matsuura (Pre, Comanechi) and Daniel O'Sullivan [Sunn 0)))] as well as backing singer Valentine Fillol Cordier. Spread over 11 tracks 'A Brief History of Love' unfurls into a lush, sprawling soundscape – at once blooming and inviting, but with an ever present air of menace. As the group themselves explain, the morose melodies of many of their pieces are quickly sugar coated to soften their impact on the listener. The majority of the album is produced by Rich Cotsey (New Order and Muse) and 'Dominos' is perhaps the standout track. The chorus – "These girls fall like dominos" – is repeated mantra like over waves of squelching synths and a propulsive beat – a ridiculously effective track creating a pre-packaged hit waiting to be discovered. But, while the simplicity of 'Dominos' is an asset, on tracks - including 'Love in Vain' and title track 'A Brief History of Love' - dull platitudes are liberally splashed across the admittedly stylish beats and fail to hit home. This is true of the majority of the album, with initial intrigue supplanted by gradual realisation and disillusion. 'Velvet' - mixed by Alan Moulder (who has previously worked with My Bloody Valentine and Muse) – demonstrates a palpably different direction. Earnest, striving and heartfelt the track's glitching beats soar above the obvious melancholy at its melodies heart but the track is again hamstrung by appallingly trite lyrics – "this hearts on fire" and "you're made for me" for example. Both shiny and inviting on the outside The Big Pink is more one night stand than long term relationship. Look just beneath the surface and the lyrics are little more than trite retreads of chronically overwrought sentiments and the glib electronics swirling in the background rarely achieve the levels of intimacy they desire.

Track Listing:-
1 Crystal Visions
2 Too Young To Love
3 Dominos
4 Love In Vain
5 At War With The Sun
6 Velvet
7 Golden Pendulum
8 Frisk
9 A Brief History Of Love
10 Tonight
11 Countbackwards From Ten

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