A Brief History of Love: The Big Pink

TheBigPinkThe Big Pink‘s debut LP A Brief History of Love comes out on the 14th, courtesy of the ever-popular 4AD records, but today sees the release of their single Dominos.  To be honest, when I first heard the record I wasn’t all that impressed.  It wasn’t bad, but the only thing I remember thinking was that it wasn’t really my kind of thing.  Somehow, however, Dominos ended up on my mp3 player and I have yet to skip past it.  Not the most glowing praise you might be thinking, but hear me out…

My mp3 player is one of those little ones that only hold a gigabyte or so’s worth of music.  I’ve yet to see the appeal of having all my music with me all of the time – it leads to lazy listening habits – so I update the playlist on my mp3 player every couple of days and have quite a strict system for choosing what goes on and what comes off.  My music listening falls into three categories: if I want to listen to something “properly” I’ll play the CD on my decent hi-fi and make time to sit down and give the record the time it deserves.  Most of the time, however, my music listening takes a more passive approach; I’ll play music in the background whilst “working” using the joys of iTunes, a rather excessive mp3 collection on a hard-drive, and the magical “shuffle” setting.  The third method of listening is when the mp3 player comes in.  I spend a lot of time on public transport, and traveling with headphones on is a remarkably effective way of focusing the mind.  This is what I’d call “academic” listening; every note, every instrument and every technique is analysed in great detail.  As such, I reserve space on my mp3 player for new music; records I have yet to properly absorb and assimilate.

A long train journey, a small selection of songs, and a skip button is a great way to sort the wheat from the chaff.  When space is at such a premium songs that get skipped more than once are replaced at the first opportunity.  So when I say that Dominos has been on there for well over a week now, it’s more a measure of it’s quality than you might first have thought.  The success of Dominos has lead me to give A Brief History of Love a second chance, and while it’s still not exactly my kind of thing, it does stand up to repeat listening.

It’s an album with a definite “sound”; The Big Pink appear to be paying close attention to their image, and whilst it might be overly studied and affected at least it’s focused and concise.  In the current pop-music climate who can blame them for dealing in broad strokes? Who has time for subtlety anymore?  Niggles aside, this is a sparse, atmospheric record (read: it has lots of reverb) with that kind of deliberately dirty edge to it that always appeals to me.  It’s nothing you haven’t heard before, but is well worth a listen despite everything.

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