Much like the crushing disappointment that washed over my face when MBV hit shelves after what seemed like a century of waiting, Mazzy Star‘s promise of a follow-up to 1996’s Among My Swan had me chomping at the bit. As soon as the first chords squeezed out from my speakers I frowned. Once again it got me thinking as to why wait an eternity to release something that could have been B-sides on your last record. B-sides being the operative word here.
Quite a number of my friends actually liked MBV, which surprised me initially. To me it wasn’t being judged on its merits as an album, it was being judged based on the length of the wait and the end result. Perhaps I would have been kinder to it if the album had been unearthed in a dusty box of demo’s and mastered/released as a “forgotten masterpiece”. The fact of the matter is that Kevin Shields worked on this album for the better part of a decade, albeit with a lackadaisical approach to routine. What came out when I pressed play in that hotel room in Bogota with a bottle of fake Smirnoff vodka nestled in my hands was a disappointment. The level that Kevin occupies in my list of idols is pretty darn high, and I expected more from him, which, inevitably is my own fault.
Mazzy Star hold somewhat the same place in my heart.
I distinctly remember moving into a collective in Copenhagen back in 1997, fresh off the plane from living in a hippie commune in Goa riding around on motorcycles and staying up all night when Goa actually had decent parties. One night, sat in our living room with candles roaring and the darkness of a Scandinavian winter battling outside, someone put on Among My Swan. I had heard the record before when I lived in Los Angeles, but this time it just fit. The next few years were spent with many late night wine sessions listening to Mazzy Star’s albums, supine on the couch, drifting away. We even managed to catch them playing at Loppen back in 2000.
Listening to the album in my bedroom, it becomes apparent that the first 3 songs are already over. Barely a hair stood up on my arm. Not a single melody left its imprint echoing around in my head. No lyrics remained ingrained. The band sound very much like they are on auto-pilot, running through the routines that made them so enamoured and worshipped by the wallflowers and the poetically inclined. None of the magic that preceded them now has survived the hiatus. Perhaps Hope has spent her best output on her solo-releases which contained some of the magic of Mazzy Star spun in different webs.
Seasons of your Day struggles to set itself apart from anything that lays already trodden into the musical landscape, and begins to tire the listener already half way through “Common Burn”.
It’s a nice dream to be trapped in, if you don’t want to move forward in your life at all, but for those seeking evolution or progression, my advice would be to stick with their first 3 albums and just pretend this never happened.