The Big Pink Bring a Delirious Wall of Sound to Detroit Bar

Which OneNs Big Pink?
TheyNre the band with the delirious wall of sound and the Armageddon love songs

Milo Cordell and Robbie Furze of the Big Pink are huge soul fans, citing Otis Redding and various Stax Records alumni as regular sources of inspiration. Not that youNd know it from listening to A Brief History of Love, the London duoNs highly touted first album. ItNs cascading with opaque noise, bent effects, dance-y drum programming, and thin vocals tackling the heaviness and exhilaration of young lust. In fact, the band coined the term “Armageddon love songs” to describe what they do. So how exactly does soul fit in?

“Lyrically, itNs very important,” says Furze by phone from England, where the Big Pink are in the middle of eight dates supporting Muse. “We take a lot of influence from the way [soul singers] donNt mince their words. If they say they love you or you love them, they just say it. They donNt do it in any kind of cryptic manner. ItNs very simple and to the heart. They get to the point. And thatNs what we try to do with our lyrics.”

Fair enough. There is certainly a frankness to the subject matter of A Brief History of Love, whether Furze is singing about girls falling like dominos or the pendulum effect of a relationship. The word “love” even appears in three song titles. But beyond the direct lyrical approach Furze espouses, musically, the album is a hall of mirrors. Besides Furze singing and playing guitar over CordellNs synths and programming, there are backing vocals, drums, piano and sax from an ever-shifting slate of guests. ThereNs also a wealth of guitar effects, conjuring an aching delirium. Even the most accessible entries, such as the singles “Dominos” and “Velvet,” are kept at a distance by a Phil Spector-esque wall of sound.

The denseness of the Big Pink partly reflects the duoNs complex backgrounds. The band are named after the BandNs first album; FurzeNs given first name is Robertson, after the BandNs Robbie Robertson. More telling is that Furze cut his teeth playing guitar for Atari Teenage RiotNs Alec Empire and recorded for EmpireNs Digital Hardcore under the moniker Panic DHH. He also founded a small label with Cordell called Hatechannel, and Cordell has issued records by Titus Andronicus and Telepathe on his own Merok imprint. CordellNs late father, Denny, was a successful producer who helmed Procol HarumNs “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and Joe CockerNs “With a Little Help From My Friends.”

Obviously, then, a unique array of influences collide within the Big Pink. Most apparent might be the specter of 4AD Records, the legendary U.K. label to which the band signed earlier this year. ItNs the same label that produced such dreamy, reality-bending acts as Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil, Dead Can Dance and Pale Saints. “WeNve tried to keep that aesthetic in some of the artwork,” says Furze. “[Regular 4AD graphic designer] Vaughan Oliver did some of the early singlesN art. It has a similar vibe to some of the early Pixies stuff. ItNs quite important to us to have that identity as a 4AD band.”

Joining the labelNs roster, he adds, was amazing in and of itself. “Before we signed to 4AD,” he continues, “I didnNt really know much about the history. I knew the Pixies and Cocteau Twins. But once you see a list of the bands that have been on 4AD since the beginning, itNs a real honor to be on that list. And weNre, like, the first English band theyNve signed in the past 10 years.”

Suddenly an in-demand commodity since A Brief History of LoveNs September release, the Big Pink have been too busy touring the world to write material for a follow-up. The bandNs live incarnation is a quartet that includes drummer Akiko Matsuura from the Merok-signed duo Comanechi and bassist Leopold Ross from the LA act Io Echo, who are also on the bill at the bandNs Detroit Bar show. Furze says the touring members, tour managers and sound people are like a big family, but he admits that he and Cordell will continue to write songs together on their own, without a full band present.

“Only because itNs much faster,” he reasons. “INve written with more than one person before, and thereNs a lot of arguing over parts. It takes a long time. Me and Milo are very un-egotistical when it comes to what we do. ItNs an easy process and very, very quick. If itNs not broken, why change it?”

The Big Pink with Crystal Antlers and Io Echo at Detroit Bar, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-0600; Fri. Call for time. $12.

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