Available on: Downwards 10″s
Pink Playground – ‘Ten’
Downwards’ DO series has brought us some brilliant releases to date, not least Tropic of Cancer’s instant classic ‘The Dull Age’ and their more recent ‘Be Brave’. Eschewing the brand of muscular techno that made the label famous in the 1990s, these increasingly regular 10″ drops – invariably from previously unknown quantities such as Dva Damas, Six Six Seconds and Colin Gorman Weiland – are linked instead by a preoccupation with fuzz. Yes, that’s right: shoegaze now seems to be at the heart of the Downwards sound.
The latest two releases do little to dispel this notion. First up is a two-tracker from Houston outfit Pink Playground, whose star is rising to the extent that their debut album has been signed to Mexican Summer (home to Washed Out, Tamaryn et al, and a fairly reliable indicator of what’s headed for the almost-mainstream). Following on from last year’s creditable ‘Sunny Skies’ 7″ on Zoo Music, ‘Ten’/’Come Find Me’ is an excellent single, albeit one that wears its allegiances to MBV shamelessly. Still, if you’re going to ape a band, you may as well make it a good one, and in fairness to Pink Playground they go about their pastiche with considerable style and skill: successfully channelling not just Kevin Shield’s growling, bending guitar wall but also Bilinda Butcher’s cooing, unintelligible vocals. This bears tastiest fruit on the thrashier but more skilfully layered B-side ‘Come Find Me’, a track which I keep going back to. Loveless cost Creation Records a million pounds; I doubt that this thing broke the $100 mark. Make of that what you will.
The KVB’s ‘Into The Night’ is a leaner, meaner effort, a rolling darkwave groove that’s like Joy Division gone psychedelic – quite close in spirit to that briliant Soft Moon LP of last year, but a little more low-slung and, well, British-sounding. ‘Lost’ is a more conventional, overdriven rocker, putting me in mind of Mary Chain and the Brian Jonestown Massacre, which to be honest is no bad thing. ‘Hide & Wait’ completes the set, its snotty riffage offset by blissed-out vocals; it’s like punk propelled along by E instead of whizz. Yeah, The KVB deals in proper rock ‘n roll, and if The Horrors released this 10″ then it would undoubtedly be praised as some kind of masterpiece. If you want to be reminded why you fell in love with music in the first place, you could do worse than to bag yourself a copy.