While best described as a Black Mountain side-project, Pink Mountaintops' debut record in fact preceded that of Black Mountain - but with the epic, note-perfect release of 2007's In The Future, Black Mountain is now firmly established as the main project, while Pink Mountaintops retains a distinctly more casual vibe, blending laid-back, bluesy riffs, with campfire vocals and the occasional burst of lo-fi disco rock.
Opener Axis: Thrones of Love is Pink Mountaintops-plus and sets the tone for much of the record with its slow pace, big drums and mellow harmonies. As expected, this is a more developed release than the previous two Pink Mountiantops records - and much as In The Future expanded Black Mountain's sound and pushed them into a new league, Outside Love attempts to do the same. The songs are bigger, more polished and more produced - while still eschewing that note-perfect precision of In The Future, instead opting for a more laid-back affair - more along the country-honk lines of Sticky Fingers than the technical perfection of Van Halen. It's also a good ten minutes longer than either of the previous Pink Mountaintops records - at a whopping 43 minutes.
With the band's higher profile comes a more extensive roster of guests on the record and guest spots are provided here for Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Sophie Trudeau, Jackie O Motherfucker's Josh Stevenson and Superconductor's Keith Parry amongst others. However, it's Black Mountain regular Amber Webber who makes the most notable contribution here - adding her atmospheric vocals to the excellent While We Were Dreaming, which recalls her own Lightning Dust album. Title track Outside Love is one notable disappointment on the record, promising much but never quite delivering, with the lumbering guest vocals from sunnO)))'s Jesse Sykes dragging it down. Luckily the damage is quickly repaired by album stand-out, I Thank You which builds on all the band's strengths, recalling Exile On Main St-era Stones and channeling the aforementioned country-honk in just the right places. The Gayest Of Sunbeams offers a break from the honkytonk and heads back into the disco-rock territory that the band explored with the likes of Bad Boogie Ballin' or more recent single Single Life, before the epic finale of Closer To Heaven.
Make no mistake, this is a great record that is a major move forward from the band's previous efforts, but it's missing that magic ingredient that lifted Black Mountain from 'great' to 'unmissable', and for that I can't help but feel mildly disappointed. Of course, this should come as no surprise in the context of The Pinkmountaintops' previous efforts and in fact even follows the step-up attitude that lifted the Black Mountain mothership's recent masterpiece up ahead of their prior work.
Outside Love was never going to topple In The Future from the throne and it has no intention of trying. This is a totally different beast and on its own terms it's another very successful effort.
28th Apr 2009 - Tumblr4
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