Mazzy Star - Still

by James Weiskittel Rating:6 Release Date:2018-06-01
Mazzy Star - Still
Mazzy Star - Still

While not necessarily a requirement, when it comes to the ever-crowded waters of music, there is often a huge benefit to having that intangible ‘something’ to help set you apart from the fray.  And in the case of the dream-pop veterans Mazzy Star, that ‘something’ has always been the unmistakable sound of Hope Sandoval’s voice.

Consisting of three new songs (and a reinterpretation/remix of the classic “So Tonight That I Might See” thrown in for good measure), the band’s latest release, the Still EP, is a welcome return for the duo, representing their first new collection of material (save for a standalone 2014 single) since the 2013 reunion LP Seasons of Your Day.   

While their second release, 1993’s So Tonight That I Might See, has appropriately taken on a ‘classic’ album status in the decades since its release, the band’s recent work (following a lengthy recording hiatus) has only served to bolster their already impressive catalog.

The EP’s opening track, “Quiet, The Winter Harbor”, begins (appropriately enough) with a sparse piano-line and Sandoval’s beautifully recorded vocal.  It isn’t until about a minute into the song that Sandoval’s long-time partner in crime, guitarist David Roback, begins to weave some guitar into the track.  In fact, it’s his lyrical slide work that provides the song’s climax.

“That Way Again”, with its laid-back drums and generous use of tasteful lead-work, instantly recalls some of the duo’s more country-tinged moments (like Season’s ”I’ve Gotta Stop”).  Sandoval expertly utilizes her delicate voice, singing the song’s refrain (“I’m never gonna think of him that way again”) with a palpable sincerity.

The title track “Still” is basically two minutes of Sandoval reciting her enigmatic prose over a droning acoustic guitar vamp.  While interesting, the song essentially functions as an interlude between the A-side’s two new numbers, and the seven-minute remix of “So Tonight That I Might See” that closes out the record.  If you are a fan of remixes, then this final track may be of some interest to you, but it would be hard to argue that it improves upon the original in any measurable way.

In what is perhaps the ultimate ode to Sandoval and Roback’s consistency as songwriters, the three new songs that comprise Still feel like a natural sonic progression for the duo, and would easily fit onto any of the band’s previous efforts.

EP’s can be a funny business though, as they rarely suffice as a stand-in for what should be a proper album, and thus are often relegated to the “for completist’s only” pile.  In the case of this latest Mazzy Star release, points are lost, if for no other reason, because of the sheer briefness of the collection.  Given the five years (and counting) wait for the band’s next full-length, it's hard to fault fans for wanting more.  That being said, the Still EP does, at the very least, accomplish the goal of providing a couple of welcome additions to the band’s ever-growing collection of songs.

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