It's not that there haven't been various announcements of 1990s reunions in the air as of late, but it sure seemed like one of the best bands of the time had simply disappeared into their own murky beauty.
Mazzy Star, the LA-based duo of David Roback (formerly of the Rain Parade and Opal) and Hope Sandoval, had three albums to their credit, all of them beautifully sung and performed riffs on a kind of psych-tinged, stately country and western feel that owed a little more to Lee Hazlewood than Johnny Cash but were ultimately in a world of their own.
And above all else was a song that couldn't be escaped in late 1993,
“Fade Into You,” which along with Portishead's “Sour Times (Nobody Loves
Me)” the following year brought some mysterious, emotional dreaminess
to the realm of post-grunge-whatever that was alternative radio:
After what seemed to be the band's dissolution in the late 1990s, Sandoval pursued solo
work while Roback, aside from working on Maggie Cheung's 2004 film
Clean, appeared to withdraw from public life almost as completely as his
former Opal bandmate Kendra Smith, though Sandoval did say in a 2009 interview the band were still around and would return with a fourth album.
Turns out she wasn't kidding about the first part at least; last week, Sandoval announced Mazzy Star's return to action via a post on her website. Perhaps appropriately for them, the news didn't fully catch fire until earlier today: Dan Brinner at
the New Orleans-based Entheo Sound noticed the announcement and
reposted the details via Facebook, news that quickly rippled across many
social networks. The band will release a two-song digital
single on Halloween, followed by a vinyl release of the same songs,
“Common Burn” and “Lay Myself Down,” on Nov. 8.
Brief preview clips are up on Amazon, and the perhaps-inevitable YouTube clip combining both has followed:
On first blush, it's definitely Mazzy Star through and through, with
both the relaxed but always carefully performed tone of Roback and
Sandoval's lovely, reverb-tinged vocals making it seem like no time has
passed at all on either song. “Common Burn” has more of the slow burn
beauty of “Fade Into You,” while “Lay Yourself Down” has a slightly
peppier swing and step to it, but either way, what it means is that
they're back — and perhaps there's more to come? The promised full album? A tour? We can but wait.
(But what did happen to Kendra Smith, anyway?)