Do you know how you know? That sometime you'll look at someone's face, and for whatever reason, that face is like a key that turns the lock inside you. Until recently, I've not been a strong believer in that idea, but I knew that others believed in it, and I could see why. It's an attractive concept, that love just hits you, changes you immediately from something cold to something alive. Your eyes are newly open, and the world is in Technicolor.
While it can't be said for certain that Stephen McBean can attest to this romantic ideal, it could be suggested is that Outside Love is the work of a romantic mind. The opening question in the opener 'Axis: Thrones of Love' "How deep is your love?", while once being the territory of hacks like the Bee Gees, when handled by McBean and his cast of thousands becomes a genuine metaphysical question. It's a death march before rebirth, a funereal waltz rich with echo, cello, and soul. It gives you a hint at how good this album is.
"Promise me that in the end, we will find our true love again."
Another romantic notion, separation and recovery, and a key lyric in 'Execution', track two. This one's a finely timed stomper, another delicate statement of intent, and like 'Axis', faintly psychedelic.
"If I could find your heart, I'd pull it from your chest, and smash you with my fist, till it was beating..." ('While we were dreaming')
Jesse Sykes is guest vocal on 'While we were dreaming', a certain single, and as close to perfection as any song is likely to get. It sounds like the Jesus and Mary Chain's "Just Like Honey" multiplied by the Velvet Underground. Chiming guitars, sweet vocals, and sensational lyrics. Track of the year, already?
The rest of the album can't match that level of quality, but doesn't veer too far from the path of righteousness. The title track is another a high point, a shimmery slow burner, laying apocalyptic words on the death of something great. Vampire is another strong track, which you'll find all over the blogs right now, a smooth, rich, densely layered love song; the musical equivalent of a dark chocolate Bounty. Hmmm. I'll try to lay off descriptive terms like that in future.
Pink Mountaintops are now my Must See At ATP, but if you aren't going, they're playing the Borderline on the 11th of May. It's definitely a worthwhile ticket.