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the big pink - A Brief History Of Love (Special Edition With Bonus 12 inch)
One of the pre-eminent hype-magnets of 2009, hotly tipped duo The Big Pink join that most impressive of independent label rosters, joining the likes of TV On The Radio and Deerhunter among the current 4AD line-up. Both central members of The Big Pink have themselves had experience of running labels, with Milo Cordell having set up Merok, which helped launch the careers of bands like Klaxons, Crystal Castles and Titus Andronicus, also co-administrating Hate Channel with his future bandmate Robbie Furze (who's previously been known to play guitar for Alec Empire). As you'd expect from such seasoned scenesters, there's a clever working knowledge of all things current on A Brief History Of Love, extracting the wall-of-noise guitar style of Kevin Shields and setting it against monstrously over-compressed, hyper-saturated synths and electronic beats. On paper, that could describe a lot of 2009's buzz bands, but this duo really know how to pull that sound off - no great surprise given that mixing the album are Rich Costey (who's worked on Muse, New Order, Rage Against The Machine and Mastodon albums) and Alan Moulder (whose credits include My Bloody Valentine, Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails). This was never going to be a subdued, understated affair. You might argue that only The Horrors have been able to make a more convincing reinterpretation of that MBV and Cocteau Twins influenced aesthetic this year. Beyond all the sonic alchemy there are some incendiary pop songs dispatched along the way, with former singles 'Velvet' and 'Too Young To Love' only representing only a fraction of the band's stadium-sized electro-rock potential; the real killer blow comes with 'Dominos' - an instant anthem if ever there was one - complete with Pixies-derived chord sequences, Animal Collective-like chorus cadences and sub bass divebombs that go deeper than most dubstep twelves. It's a thing of awesome power, and is highly likely to be ubiquitous come the end of the year. However, one notable absence from this album's arsenal of big choruses is 'Stop The World', another former single but one that the band have since seemingly disowned. Ironically, it was because the track was deemed too poppy by Cordell and Furze that it was dropped from the full-length, but if that's the case most of the tracklist is on fairly dangerous ground. An absolutely massive sounding record with plenty of highlights, this has to stand as one of the year's most ostentatious debuts.