Hope Sandoval / Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions

Through the Devil Softly

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Hope Sandoval basically disappeared from the scene following the release of 2001's Bavarian Fruit Bread. That album's tender and spooky folk seemed like a nice beginning for her post-Mazzy Star career, and her musical partnership with ex-My Bloody Valentine drummer Colm O'Ciosoig promised more goodness to come. It wasn't to be, however, and it wasn't until 2009's Through the Devil Softly that the duo reappeared. The album showed that not much had changed musically for them. The hazy, slow-motion feel of the music here is of a piece with Sandoval's body of work; the restraint and careful placement of instruments is equally as effective; and the songs are haunting, perhaps even more so. Most of all, there's Sandoval's voice, which is exactly as beguiling and bewitching as ever. She makes everything sound like it was recorded at 2:00 a.m. in the middle of the kind of dream you never want to wake up from. If you look a little deeper, though, there are things here that make this album much more successful than Sandoval's debut. Songs with memorable hooks were somewhat lacking on the first Warm Inventions record, and while this album doesn't exactly scream Top 40 or boast any singalong choruses, it does at least have more of a sense of melody and forward motion. Tracks like "For the Rest of Your Life," "Trouble," and "Fall Aside" fit this bill, and "There's a Willow" comes magically close to a straightforward Mazzy Star-like gem. Even the spare ballads and drifting tone poems feel more fleshed-out and well constructed this time around. There is a depth of sound and feeling on the record that makes it feel less like a semi-forced continuation of a career and more like a deeply felt work of art. It sounds like it was worth the wait for Sandoval and O'Ciosoig and it's a welcome return for fans of her music, and also for fans of late-night, melancholy balladry that will break your heart and ease you gently into dreams.

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