Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions | Until the Hunter (Tendril Tales/InGrooves)

Mazzy Star singer Hope Sandoval and My Bloody Valentine’s Colm Ó Cíosóig return for their third collaboration.

Mazzy Star singer Hope Sandoval and My Bloody Valentine’s Colm Ó Cíosóig return for their third collaboration, their first in seven years (though it follows Mazzy Star’s twenty-years-in-the-making reunion album Seasons of Your Day by just three). As on their previous efforts, Until the Hunter is full of sighing, spacious ballads, though the arrangements here tend to be much lusher than the pair’s sparse debut, Bavarian Fruit Bread.

untilthehunterSandoval and Ó Cíosóig make clear they have something different in mind from the get-go with opener “Into the Trees,” a nine-minute dirge where Sandoval breathily sighs “I miss you” over droning organ, a drumbeat that rolls like distorted thunder off in the distance, and occasional stabs of ragged strings and squelches out of a horror movie. It sounds like it would be a bear to listen, but the song’s constantly shifting sonics keep it compelling from beginning to end. Later, “Salt of the Sea” creates dark atmosphere out of rolling, distorted blues guitar and a tinkling vibraphone.

Elsewhere, the pair is in more familiar territory. A few songs (“Day Disguise,” “The Hiking Song”) hearken back to Bavarian Fruit Bread‘s prettily plucked acoustic guitar, but most others expand the sonic palette. “The Peasant” is an album highlight, a rollicking, folksy tune where the vocals are vaguely Norah Jones, the arrangement is early Neko Case, and the strummed acoustic guitar is pure Jimmy Page. Single “Let Me Get There” is a dreampop tune that plays like Luna, with Sandoval’s gentle coo contrasted with guest singer Kurt Vile’s sleepy deadpan. Like “Into the Trees,” the song is lengthy (seven-and-a-half minutes). Also like that song, it miraculously doesn’t overstay its welcome, thanks to a constantly shifting lead guitar figure that splits the difference between Dean Wareham, Nels Cline circa Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky, and even a little George Harrison.

Fans of Sandoval’s Mazzy Star work will find much to like here. Until the Hunter is not an album that grabs your attention, but its beautifully sung vocals and musical atmosphere that constantly shifts from warm to icy cool offer many audio pleasures. | Jason Green

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