Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions – Suzanne EP

Although last year’s Bavarian Fruit Bread album pretty much nailed down the lid on Mazzy Star’s existence, nobody complained too loudly or for too long. That’s hardly surprising given that the sultry slow-motion tones of lead singer Hope Sandoval were directly transplanted from the twitching corpse of her former band without any complications. With her new backing ensemble, The Warm Inventions (featuring former My Bloody Valentine drummer Colm O’Ciosoig), Sandoval’s semi-solo debut picked-up where Mazzy Star more or less dropped off the scope, with its acres of dreamy atmospherics and slumbering narcotic melodies.
And this new four-song EP pretty much sticks to that same template. The title-track (reprised here from the aforementioned album) is a wonderfully understated Velvets-slanted gem. Supported by dainty glockenspiel chimes, acoustic strumming, harmonica, and murmuring backing vocals, Sandoval’s sumptuous voice is given plenty of room to breath and unfurl, like a lazy cat stretching out in the summer sun. In comparison “I Thought You’d Fall For Me” is more murky and claustrophobic, with its mordant Tindersticks organ swirls and barely-there Low-like percussion casting Sandoval into a more desolate but still beautiful realm.
Third in line comes “These Things,” another languid affair (naturally). Accompanied by untreated electric guitar and the odd snatch of church organ, Sandoval slips into a slight country twang – like Dolly Parton after a 3 am bottle of whiskey – as she intones “Keeping my face with a smile / While you keep me down all the while.” The loveliest moment comes last in the form of “Friends of a Smile,” with its shimmering repetitious electro-acoustic layers bathing Sandoval’s vocals as they drift dreamily down some distant stream of unconsciousness.
Inevitably, as with anything featuring Hope Sandoval, it’s most definitely a heaven/hell thing for the listener. If you had no patience for Mazzy Star, you’ll groan at the thought of more self-absorbed sloth from Sandoval’s new troupe. But if you can happily smother yourself in anything Sandoval sets her passive pipes to, you’ll soon be beating down the door of your nearest independent record emporium in search of this gorgeously crafted four-tracker.