Shoegaze and psychedelics just naturally go hand in hand. Sure, you can have one without the other, but youd probably be cheating yourself of one of two things: a spiritual epiphany, or a night of sitting on your ass in your room staring blissfully into the space. Alright, maybe there isnt really a difference between the two, but Pink Mountaintops definitely achieves the feeling with their third full-length, Outside Love. Their sound relies a lot on setting a lulling atmosphere with droning noises, soaking wet reverb, and lovely depth with the layering of strings and voices.
When the first thing you hear is Axis Thrones of Love, youll immediately be drawn to making comparisons to The Cure with its slow and warm jaunt, oozing in cosmic emotion. This perhaps may sound like the many other psychedelic/experimental groups out there, but Pink Mountaintops keeps it fresh with their variety of instruments and moods they conjure. Vampire is a wonderful example of how Pink Mountaintops combines simple acoustic riffs with electric feedback and haunting choruses. With a bluesy tinge at times, and a world music feel at others, its hard to classify them in one little niche of sound. You might feel listening halfway through the album that youve got them pinned as some space cadets channeling The Cure. Suddenly, Holiday comes on with its festive tambourine, bongo, and harmonica and all your expectations go out the window. Hey now, even shoegaze needs to cheer itself up once in awhile, and it serves Pink Mountaintops well to not be predictable. Other notable surprises include And I Thank You, a reverb-less country ballad, and the Iggy Pop-ish upbeat, The Gayest of Sunbeams (Vocalist Stephen McBeans gargling at the end of the song is probably one of the best noises Ive heard recorded in awhile).
Aside from guttural noises, McBeans voice lends a folk-ish warmth to the music with his slightly nasal slurring that is in-between a combination of singing drunk and having a stuffy nose. Its also rare to not hear other singers featured on the tracks, most notably the female vocalist on While You Were Dreaming (Sophie Trudeau, is that you?). Outside Love does a good job catering to that fuzzy sing-along feeling. Which brings us to the McBeans lyrics on the album. Sometimes the lyrics are visceral and dark, both religiously and emotionally (Vampire and the title track Outside Love come to mind). At other times, like Holiday or Come Down, theyre playful and quirky.
What I enjoyed most about this album was Pink Mountaintops tendencies to put a dash of country in their songs. It meshes well with the shoegaze/psychedelic tip, and it gives the music a lot of soul as they stay close to the acoustic side of music as well. Its an interesting mix of genres to command and perform, but Outside Love manages to be a distinct sound in this musical foray.
P.S. Theres a fan-made Youtube video with clips from Let the Right One In set to their song, Vampire. Predictable, but its great.
7.2 / 10
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