pink mountaintopsoutside love
  • FRIDAY, MAY 22, 2009

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Casting shadows over landscapes are the trembling strings of Pink Mountaintops, quivering with each beat in a shimmery sweet ballad, before cutting through the fog with razor sharp synths, e.g. "Outside Love," where the tranquility is cut short with an epic whistle and a chordal resolution. Pink Mountains are professors at the Canadian indie school of listless grandeur, with contemporaries Arcade Fire, Stars, and the much grittier Black Mountain Collective, of which the Pinkie's were born so many years ago. For fans of this type of epic songwriting, this might be your next squeeze. Pink Mountaintops have created an album that exists outside of the focus, for an interesting, delicate complexity.

Stephen McBean writes songs about love, not love songs. His lyrics seem to simply dance around the ideas of love, never trying to touch them directly.They never seem directive because they all exist in a blur, with purposely echoed guitars and drum reverb that's off the charts, even for eighties hair bands. The snare drum on opening track "Axis: Thrones Of Love" sounds like a gun shot in a long tunnel, decaying slowly as the track propels itself through each hit. Much of the record feels like it lags ever so slightly and sloppily, to emulate the feeling of longing captured so well in title track "Outside Love." The success is in the kind of roller coaster the sloppy rhythm creates, the up and down which culminates into a rousing emotional turbulence without ever really moving quickly. Who knows if this is even what's being talked about; however, the important thing is the compelling aspect, not the intention.

The dynamic qualities of the record are not as present as they should be, and that does lend itself to slow sections, especially when it's composed of chiming ballads over and over. Sleepy-eyed listeners will pine for something, perhaps more transparent optimism from the Pinkies. "The Gayest Of Sunbeams" (title?) finally helps the record wake up a little, with a driving energy and drums that don't sound muffled or intentionally sappy, and a tempo that isn't akin to 'dirge,' 'glissando,' or 'imaginary forest walking.' But it's too late, much of the earlier tracks drift down the starry foam laden river of love with no particular direction. We're left with no choice but to kick back and drift with them, wherever in the woods we wind up hitting shore. In retrospect, it's the best sort of relaxation; with a lush sonic surrounding and a slowed pulse. - joe puglisi

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