‘Excited’ might be an odd word to use about the return of Mazzy Star. ‘Enchanted’ might be more apt, ‘bewitched’, ‘absorbed’ even. These cult Californian spinners of somnambulant webs were never best known for their pulse quickening, hi-octane punk rampages. This was music for stitching dreamcatchers, lounging in dusky wheatfields or soothing angry wildlife mid-attack.
Yet ‘excited’ we are. Although they claimed to have been sporadically recording the whole time, Hope Sandoval and David Roback officially reunited after a twelve-year hiatus in 2009 and released their first album in seventeen years in 2013, ‘Seasons Of Your Day’ – so rare are live appearances and new releases that they’ve become something of an ambient country Avalanches. Now they’ve announced a new record, the ‘Still’ EP, for June, their first in four years, and their first live shows for five. Here’s why the Mazzy comeback will be the goose down fan’s event of the year.
They’re the original Lana Del Rey
A sultry, pouting femme fatale conjuring hazy Californian nights in some cinematic Golden Age; Lana’s allure was patented back in the early 90s by Hope Sandoval on dusky slide guitar laments like ‘Fade Into You’. Lana’s take might be more tragic starlet than Hope’s forlorn romantic, but Del Rey owes every bit as great a debt to Mazzy Star classics like ‘She Hangs Brightly’ and ‘So Tonight That I Might See’ as the new Manics press shots do to an episode of New Tricks.
They’re dream pop pioneers
Taking their cues from Galaxie 500, The Cocteau Twins, The Doors and The Velvet Underground, Mazzy Star led a wave of psychedelic country that would eventually morph into Pitchfolk and the new generation of amorphous dream pop. Everyone from The War On Drugs to Cigarettes After Sex have a little bit of Mazzy Star in their blood and wonderful underground luminaries like Keren Ann are swamped in their dolorous magic. Some argue that modern music is only now catching up with them.
They’re truly mysterious
Mazzy Star exist outside of standard musical routines. Sandoval’s aversion to singing live has kept tours few and far between, and they approach recording an album in the same way that David Lynch approaches Twin Peaks. ‘Seasons Of Your Day’ was such a lengthy, piecemeal process that it includes parts reputedly recorded way back in the early 90s and features work by keyboardist Will Glenn, who died in 2001. Make no mistake, this is what they do in the shadows.
They’re still utterly magical
Seventeen years on from third album ‘Among My Swan’, ‘Seasons…’ was just as haunting, hallowed and glacial as their peak 90s output, Sandoval’s voice having lost none of its apparition-next-door lustre and Roback’s spacious country folk remains the sound of Peter Buck slipping into a blissful coma. Ignore the plentiful solo projects and it’s almost as though they spent the best part of twenty years slow-dancing around a sawdust strewn prom hall at 4am. Expected more scintillating stillness from ‘Still’.