Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions - Until The Hunter

by Kevin Orton Rating:8 Release Date:2016-11-04

In these dark days, we could all use a little Hope. Even lovelier if the name Sandoval is attached. While this is no Mazzy Star reunion, fans of that band’s lazy, opiate and molasses sound won’t be disappointed with Until the Hunter, Sandoval’s latest venture with the Warm Inventions.

Do not be turned off by the narcoleptic, 9-minute opener, ‘Into the Trees’. Yes, it’s like a warm bath. One you risk nodding off in. It's not that it's bad, its just an overly long, inaccessible introduction. The Country tinged, ‘The Peasant’ is more like it with its smoky atmospherics and dreamy slide guitar. Sandoval seductively in her element. The kind of song you want to slow dance and spend the night with. Beautiful.

The haunting, ‘A Wonderful Seed’ is more folksy with its lonesome ukulele. Sandoval sounding more like an elfin sorceress whispering out arcane nursery rhymes or spells. Eerie and cryptic, its an utterly engrossing track.

On ‘Let Me Get There’ Sandoval gets her Soul groove on for a duet with Kurt Vile. “It’s all in the groove,” Sandoval coos. Vile doing his very best lounge lizard, but sounding more like a sleazy pimp. To be frank, they both sing with all the enthusiasm of just having taken the needle out of their arm. They may be going for Barry White meets Lee & Nancy but they just sound so cosmically stoned. After 7- plus laconic minutes, you wish they'd finally “get there” already. The pastiche wears thin and compared to the rest of the album, its reveals itself as a fairly trite tune. One, that perhaps knowingly, flirts with slow jam territory.

 ‘Day Disguise’ keeps up this album's hazy, lazy Tim Buckley Blue Afternoon vibe. ‘Treasure’ adds some welcome percussion to the sleepy proceedings. But the sultry torch balladry of ‘Salt of the Sea’ is a true standout. Ó Cíosóig bringing some of his best My Bloody Valentine tricks into the mix. It’s one of the albums more rousing and arresting numbers.

‘The Hiking Song’ by contrast is a somber affair bringing Will Oldham at his most obtuse to mind. The flamenco acoustic guitar and violin are pleasant but as a song it's one of Until The Hunter 's most inaccessible numbers. The best way to describe it might be Acoustic Shoegaze Art Folk.

 When ‘Isn’t It True’ trots in, the change in energy is welcome. Its mix of distant horns, brightly strummed acoustic guitars reminding me of something off David Sylvian’s opus, Secrets of the Beehive. The spare ‘I Took a Slip’  follows and is mostly just Sandoval and her acoustic guitar. Then hand claps are added before it all culminates in some very My Bloody Valentine feedback noodling at the end. It’s not unwelcome track but it serves to highlight the album's main flaw. A lack of cohesion. Each song seems to be lost in its own little world, not in each other's world. At this point, Until The Hunter begins to feel a touch arbitrary.   

Sandoval and co. save the best for last. The Bluesy, ‘Liquid Lady’ is the best thing on the album. What can only be Kurt Vile’s fiery guitar giving a nod and wink to Screaming Jay Hawkins’ ‘I Put A Spell On You’. Here everyone comes out of their shells and it makes you wish you had more of this and less of things like ‘The Hiking Song’.

While overall, an uneven album in parts, there are more than enough alluring and captivating moments, to rope you in again. Sandoval luring you into her arms like a shy, benevolent siren.

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