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It's a way of life
on 25 September 2009
Through the Devil Softly - which was released today in Germany and comes out in the UK on Monday - is the second album from Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions, following three albums from the Hope-fronted Mazzy Star.
The music sounds even more woozy & muffled & stripped down than ever. Away with the cutsy glockenspiel, harmonica and trumpet from Bavarian Fruit Bread and in with the banjo plucking and more slide guitar. But Hope doesn't stray from her core sound; these 11 tracks feel like a natural continuation of the sound that has accompanied her since the early 1990s: languid, weary vocals, simple guitar-strumming, and an atmosphere of waking up from druggy sleep with your head still full of dreams.
The best description of her music that I've heard over the years is that of a cat stretching its paws out after the tenth nap of the day on a huge puffy bed. The curtains are reacting to the soft wind, and there are no clocks pulling you back into the monotony of work and day-to-day chores. There is simply the hazy "now" in which you can drift and drift.
Of course there will always be people who don't get her music - either with David Roback in Mazzy Star or here with My Bloody Valentine drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig. I remember NME calling the first Warm Inventions record "a piece of morphine-induced self-indulgence" and someone else saying that it was just "glorified mood music". What I think they don't get - and I'm aware this might sound absurd to some - is that it's not just music, it expresses and represents a way of life. Listening to and treasuring songs like 'Fade Into You' and 'Take Everything' means not wanting to be a part of the rush and push of these work- and speed-obsessed times. It means not worrying about the passing of time or the inevitability of getting older (Hope said herself in a rare interview given recently that "I don't really notice the time. We don't keep track of the days and months. And the years.").
This album was recorded over the last few years in Northern California and the countryside of Wicklow County, Ireland (with only cows, a lake and a little pub for company, says Ó Cíosóig). Hope has also said that Mazzy Star are still together and a fourth album is "nearly finished". This autumn she's touring the USA and Europe with The Warm Inventions, ending the stretch of dates on the 8th November at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.
Hope - it's great to have you back!
Standouts (IMO): Blue Bird ("let me go..."), Trouble, Blanchard, Wild Roses