Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions / Hope Sandoval

Bavarian Fruit Bread

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Hope Sandoval built up real steam fronting the darkly mysterious yet slinky slow-core swooners Mazzy Star. If Mazzy did themselves no favors playing shows in total darkness or close to it, it just seemed to add to the wee-hours shimmer of their vibey reputation. Certainly, Sandoval's unhurried, husky whisper was a major part of it. But her first solo LP, Bavarian Fruit Bread, misspends this regard. Sandoval misses the textural bedrock (and likely the tunes) provided by tight-lipped but inspired Mazzy Star mainman, guitarist David Roback. Though now Sandoval works with one of the best rock drummers of a decade ago, ex-My Bloody Valentine pounder Colm O'Ciosoig, there's hardly any drumming here, and not all that much else going on, either. The spare melodies are largely wanting, and the backing tracks are minimal but unsatisfying. So Sandoval's unhurried delivery now comes off as bored, or at least diffident, when her voice used to seem so vivid. Perhaps the title track and the effortlessly graceful "On the Low" bring back some of the old, dark, black magic. And there are touches of childlike bells, cellos and piano, alt-country electric and chamber-bare acoustic guitar, and occasional big-sigh harmonica gasps. But for the most part, the LP never really goes anywhere. It's like sitting in a cool car with the engine off and the brake pulled, a movie with no sound, a party with no guests, or the Blues Brothers' meatless "Wish Sandwich." The parts are present, but there's no there here. A lot of joyless or minimal records are actually quite compelling, striking, or peculiarly affecting. This one is just a little too stillborn to get airborne.

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