The Big Pink are in danger of falling into the latter camp.
That’s not to say that their brash, beautiful, bold debut is not good. It is. Very good. But it’s just not as amazing as it might seem at first.
History is littered with bands that have been hyped to the rafters by the music press before being ignominiously chewed up and spat out. The Big Pink are the latest for the increasingly desperate NME to hang their hat on, handing them the Philip Hall Radar award – previously won by the Long Blondes, Franz Ferdinand and the Twang, to give some indication of the success and quality of the bands that have won it – back in February.
So already the pressure is on London duo Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell. But they pull it off for the most part. A Brief History Of Love is a woozy and understated yet classy debut, full of heartfelt melodies and thoughtful repeated beats. Unfortunately, too much of the time the record veers dangerously into background music, needing the thumping brilliance of next single Dominos to wake it up, or the charmingly soft and vivacious Velvet – by far and away the two best songs on the album, and two of the best of the year full stop – to remind us what the pair are capable of.
Arguably the most representative track on the record is the driving rhythms of At War With The Sun, which drifts off into nothingness despite the climactic, alarming guitars at the end.
It clocks in at little over three quarters of an hour, normally ideal album length, but for some reason it feels long. Although Furze and Cordell are clearly full of big, bright and often brilliant ideas, it seems their limitations are exposed in the second half of the album. There’s only so much you can do with some fuzzy guitars, an electronic drum machine and someone who can kind of sing but not really.
There’s plenty to love here though, with lovelorn teens especially likely to be drawn in by the band’s loner-ish vibe. Opening track Crystal Visions is a stunning statement of the band’s intentions, Frisk is dark, mysterious and complexly layered, and the title track is weirdly uplifting despite its bleakness.A Brief History Of Love is good enough for the band’s future to be worth keeping an eye on, but you do wonder how the duo can progress without branching out with new instruments and fresh impetus.
This review was written for TMM.