Pink Mountaintops—a Canadian band comprised of Stephen McBean and his collected associates—is an evocative, addictive blend of psychedelic melodies, fuzzy guitars, and gospel-like lyrics. On Outside Love, McBean and company—including much of the same lineup as his downtempo, more melancholy-named band Black Mountain—are a less giddy Polyphonic Spree, a happier Echo & the Bunnymen, a not-so-freaky take on modern psych folk. Everything about the album is perfect for large headphones that block out everything except shoegaze-caliber chords coupled with whistling and windy gusts that blow through the tracks like ghosts of albums past.
The band’s third LP assembles quite an indie cast, including musicians and vocalists from Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Jackie-O Motherfucker. Outside Love also features the haunting vocals of songstress Amber Webber. If you have an incredibly skilled ear and a love of innovative folk rock, you’ll no doubt recognize her from previous Black Mountain albums and last year’s collaborative album with Bonnie Prince Billy, Lie Down in the Light.
The band’s press release claims that, among other phenomenon, real life events, and musical history, Outside Love was inspired by “being depressed in the sunshine [and] people who haven't made out yet but will in the future.” I could be the most high-functioning depressed-in-the-sunshine person you know (or don’t), and though I do not await unknown make out sessions (I have a super cute guy lined up for life, thanks), this album is my perfect springtime friend. I sit around, listen to morbid love songs, stare at the crazy ocean horizon mere blocks from my home, and I wonder if “outside love” means being removed from romance and commitment or whether they simply mean, “Be in love in nature.” Look no further than the title track and “And I Thank You” for clues.
Tonight I’m in love with all the lovers
With their loose hips and O-powered lips
Just for tonight, get all those sad songs
’Cause I know in my heart, it’s gonna be alright
Grab a copy or listen to the full album streaming on the band’s MySpace page if you like Neko Case, The Jesus and Mary Chain, a subdued Animal Collective, or wish Slint would get some girls and brighten up a bit. If you ever thought you should care about any of those bands and didn’t bother, this would also be a great way to get started on your journey to better listening.