Album Review: Get Lost in the haze
Despite the fact that I like this record, I’m hesitant to recommend it because you really have to know what you’re getting into. This is ’90s shoegaze rock to the T. It’s all acoustic strumming, breathy vocals and atmospherics and that’s it, over and over again. So, if you want to get strung out like it’s 1996 and fall into that hazy, repetitious world again, this is a good record for it.
Through the stark arrangements and Hope Sandoval’s intimate-but-detached delivery (thanks, pitchfork.com), the surprises come from David Roback’s deep bag of tricks, which includes the country swing of “Lay Myself Down” and the electric blues slide of “Flying Low.” Roback uses the slide guitar like a master – cherry-picking his moments to interrupt his Peter Buck jangle with Son House bends. I imagine Jack White jumping up and down at the sound of “Flying Low,” which showcases a lick that could’ve come straight from The White Stripes “De Stijl.”
When listening to this album, one must be careful not to confuse laid-back with lazy. Sandoval sings her dreamy vocals with attention and care; in other words, these songs are fully composed tunes, not just rambling experiments like they might resemble – if you’re not paying attention.
If you extract any of these songs from the album, isolate them, and just listen to one at a time, they each sound like a revelation. However, admittedly, over the length of the whole effort, the similarity in tone can be a bit tiring. But, again, if you’re listening closely, there’s plenty there to be excited by.
Even though the band took a public 17-year break – their last album was 1996’s “Among My Swan” – Roback told Rolling Stone, “We never stopped writing or recording. We just stopped performing and releasing things.” Well, it makes sense that such a patient band wouldn’t rush into anything. I don’t think “hurry” is in their vocabulary.