Thursday, April 15, 2010

Review: A Brief History of Love

Aare Undo
15 April 2010

A Brief History of Love is the first and to date only album of the band The Big Pink. In addition to this album, they have released four singles. The Big Pink itself is an ’electro-rock’ band, but one that is widely considered indie, consisting of two multi-instrumentalists Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell. This album carried a heavy burden of expectations before it finally came out in September 2009. In East-London The Big Pink is ’the real deal’, being one of the more popular artists. And judging from rankings of it on different charts, it turned out much better than it needed to be. The album offers quite a lot of diversity;

To take the first song of the album, (1.) Crystal Visions, as an example – it does have quite a psychodelic sound to it. It is something that could be characterised as modern Pink Floyd. Whereas the second song of the album, (2.) Too Young to Love, is a bit offputting compared to that – it has a dubset rythm. It is quite catchy, I cannot lie, but still not quite my cup of tea, and definitely far from rock. (3.) Dominos, the next track on the album, has also been released as a single before. I would say this is the key song of the album. It has such a catchy tune, ’These girls fall like Dominos!’ is still in my head. But to take a look at the next track, again a completely different one – (4.) Love in Vain has a classic tune to it. I really feel the lyrics scraping pieces from my heart. Touching and sad.

Now, (5.) At War with the Sun approaches another different angle. This song is faster than others. If I had to pick one track from the album to dance to, this would be the one. It does not even sound indie, sounds like rock. One might find his or her body moving to this tune without even noticing it. But the next song, (6.) Velvet, is another one with a dubstep rythm. Looks like the circle of different approaches has reached dubstep again. This is not something I would listen to on a day-to-day basis, it is slow and rather depressing. On the other hand, (7.) Golden Pendulum is of similar nature, but also completely different – it starts off like a night club dance hit, but it does go uphill from there, towards the end it sounds like something by Coldplay.

While at the same time the next track, (8.) Frisk, is a genuine example of true electro music. While listening to it, I really felt like I was taken to the roots of electronic music, listening to one of the first representatives of the genre. The next song, (9.) Stop the World, has a rythm similar to Queen’s Another one Bites the Dust. This is another song that sounds more like electronic rock, far from indie or dubstep. (10.) A Brief History of Love, the namesake song of the album is a slow, yet moving song. The female vocals here assist greatly. This is another song that made me sway along in the rythm.

Furthermore, the next song is titled (11.) Tonight. When listening to this song for the first time, I could picture somebody doing the robot dance – this shows how much diversity you can find on this album. It is also a song that made me tap my foot without even noticing. (12.) Count Backwards from Ten is a song that remind’s me of Placebo’s hit song. The vocal rythm does not follow the instrumental one that strictly – this is really enjoyable. The bonus track of the album is called (13.) Love Song, it is a The Cure cover. It starts as some scary trance tune, but then leaves the listener bored and unmoved. My advice would be to firstly get familiar with The Cure’s version of it, then try enjoying this one.

To sum up, it must be said that this album is definitely something the 21st century needed. A lot of diversity can be seen on this album – from rock to slight tunes of trance. Comparisons to Pink Floyd, Placebo or Sonic Youth can be drawn as well. The two musicians who compiled this album may be considered geniuses for making something so different and something that can be enjoyed by a variety of people with different musical tastes. This is an absolute eyeopener for people who enjoy decent electronic music. It is soulful and reaches into the hearts and minds of listeners.

1 comment:

bv said...

As the other two first reviews in the blog, it starts by establishing a context of style, but with a bit of tension: "The Big Pink itself is an ’electro-rock’ band, but one that is widely considered indie". As the review continues wit allotting each track to a particular style or a hybrid of styles, it is bound to evoke debate as it did in the class - e. g. the characterisation of "Frisk" as "a genuine example of true electro music" etc was put in doubt by a few; it does recall some early industrial but 'electro' is tricky indeed.

Still, it is interesting how the assessment of tracks is both very personalised and distinctly tied to stylistic standards; the yardstick seems to be 'rock' and the quality determined by closeness to/distance from it (in direction of e. g. dubstep). It is also a noticeably bodily review and one that disperses viewpoints (or rather, movepoints) - it is not always the 'me' who starts dancing/tapping feet/swaying etc, it can also be 'somebody' (else) and then the textual 'me' follows.

Values can manifest in rather subtle ways: 'it starts off like a night club dance hit, but it does go uphill from there' - i.e. upbeat is not necessarily uphill, Coldplay can be 'uphill' than a dance hit; even more intriguingly, two negatives are put into relation in: "It starts as some scary trance tune, but then leaves the listener bored and unmoved." Or should one of them be taken as (more) positive?

My favourite phrase: "it turned out much better than it needed to be"