Rating: 4 / Format: CD/LP / Label: 4AD

The Big Pink are pretty much bound to get hated on, if only because they’ve been so ridiculously hyped. Not simply in the ‘this is the future of rock and roll’ sense of being hyped (Christ, almost every band gets lumbered with that label at some point). No, it’s the ‘this band are drug-crazed ageing ravers’ kind of hype that’ll do for the Big Pink. Because, after all, who doesn’t love drug-crazed ageing ravers? Who wouldn’t yearn to hear some battle-hardened transgressives teach the kids, and the producers of Skins, how it’s really done? And yet this kind of hype could be fatal, because it makes the Big Pink sound way, way more interesting than they actually are.

Which isn’t to say this is a particularly bad album. It’s just kind of…grey. If you’ve read a lot of the Big Pink’s press, you might go into it thinking this album’s going to be like a raved-up Xinlisupreme, with gorgeous melodies drifting like icing sugar over jet-engine roars of distortion. Well, it’s not. Much of the time, it’s like the Verve with a load of effects pedals. And effects pedals haven’t been interesting, in and of themselves, since about 1963. Sure, there’s nice textures here – guitars rupturing into huge canyons, teeth-on-edge whistles of noise, layered chords doing some night-sky twinkling, that kind of thing. But U2 have nice textures; it still doesn’t make you want to listen to them, and it certainly doesn’t mean you’d want them inflicted on the young and impressionable. Yet this is just what the powers that be are trying to do with the Big Pink.

And good lord, these songs plod along. Of course, the wooziness that the Big Pink are going for doesn’t require them to be exactly jaunty. After all, My Bloody Valentine made music so thick and viscous that rhythm was unimportant, almost obliterated; you just got swallowed up in a big blanket of sound. But A Brief History of Love never goes that far, and so we’re just stuck with a laboured steadiness with some nice whooshing noises. Plod plod plod. It’s only when the band perk up a bit, on the frazzled lairiness of ‘Dominos’ that they’re near to being as exciting as they should be.

Still, this isn’t an album deserving of the hate it’ll no doubt get amongst the hipster chattering classes. It’s just not a very good album. Don’t hate the band, hate the system, a system that has collectively decided to tell us this band will change our lives and make us feel funny all over. Of course they won’t.

Simon Hampson

The Big Pink homepage



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