It’s been 17 years since Mazzy Star released Among My Swan with Capitol Records. Since then duo Hope Sandoval and David Roback have worked separately on new musical projects, but have never stopped to perform together as Mazzy Star. Over the 17 year gap of wonder, Sandoval and Roback performed and released new songs, throwing eager fans a reason to keep waiting despite mysterious and vague replies to questions about a new album.
In 2009, Sandoval stated in an interview with Rolling Stone, that Mazzy Star was in fact working on a new LP. Like, recording it. We’d heard that before. We’d believed it, too. Then in October 2011, Mazzy Star digitally released the double a-sided single “Common Burn”/”Lay Myself Down”. Then we had proof. Californians everywhere had a reason to remember they were proud the nebulous duo started on the best coast. Now we can finally say the awaited Mazzy Star return has dropped from the sky, dreamy as ever. Nothing’s changed, and we’re thrilled about it.
Seasons of Your Day starts out with a slow aching keyboard chord progression, lonely and simple, two words that make you want to listen to Mazzy Star the way it makes sense– alone in a low lit bedroom, journaling about a lovely little someone who held your hand once. Upon first listening I jot a note: “Sounds like the start to a funeral. Hope it’s not.” When Sandoval begins singing her soft iconic murmur, it’s clear this will mark the Mazzy Star revival, not death.
Sandoval dares to do something we hardly see anymore– just sing. Just sing– shy, and low, without breathy high pitched runs or an anger infused belt (see: Adele, or Fiona Apple). This is why some critics will say Mazzy Star is boring, or whiney. This is why I say Sandoval still holds my heart. Her lyrics are simple, but not juvenile, different, but not thesaurus driven. Sandoval whispers in our ears calmly like we’re a friend she simply forgot to tell: “I know you’ve been missing me. Well you know I’ve been missing you too.”
Sometimes, though, you almost want Sandoval to lose it along with the music, like when the slide guitar starts to really sing in “Does Someone Have Your Baby Now”. Sandoval never manages to part from her level yet drowsy tone. At the end of the track I can hardly tell if she’s still singing.
The album nevertheless hardly strays, ending on beautiful emblems of the trusted Mazzy Star sound. “Sparrow” returns with the same acoustic guitar picking we remember from Roback and Sandoval’s wandering melody lines remain reminiscent of Joni Mitchell.
The album finishes with a slightly sped up bluesy tune, “Flying Low”. While listening to the track I keep wondering when Sandoval will come back in, her voice petering out around minute 3 in this nearly 8 minute jam. The album ends with Sandoval belting on the harmonica in a new unruly vain, but in the end she doesn’t sing again. Five minutes and she’s missed.
Ten years ago I started listening to Mazzy Star. I was 14. At that time the most popular yearbook message sign off was: D.E.C.– Don’t Ever Change. I don’t think any of us then ever really meant it, but in this scenario all I can think to say is, D.E.C. Mazzy Star, D.E.C.
Mazzy Star’s Seasons of Your Day releases September 24th on the band’s own label Rhymes Of An Hour Records.
Alexa Carrasco is a semi-recent college graduate and a full-time freelance everything. Alexa enjoys writing obscure poetry, making inaccessible experimental short films, and barreling through crowds at live shows.