This Land is Their Land
Conventional wisdom: The sun never sets on the British Empire. Unconventional proof of the theorem: Without warning or provocation two musically inclined London lads have taken it upon themselves to lead a whirlwind, 48-minute excursion through it. They are The Big Pink, their itinerary is delineated in their debut album A Brief History of Love, and the trip is one searingly hot ticket.
Throughout Milo Cordell and Robbie Furze’s rookie effort listeners’ ears will prick up with joy and curiosity. Songs like “Crystal Visions” and “Velvet” are full of twangy electronics and fractured lyrics (“Poison in my head / Gun love hurts”) obscured by feedback that whines like jet engines. Dry harmonies and a dense skiffle rhythm in “At War with the Sun” reconfigure pop as The Stone Roses once did; the sparse guitar vehicle “Count Backwards from Ten” does so Suede-style.
But really, A Brief History of Love can be distilled down to its worldbeating third song, “Dominos.” Its shuffling beat could have grown from the roots of Madchester in the late Eighties or dozens of indie-dance producers in the late Aughts. It layers shoegazer drones atop industrial screeches atop breathy, gothy backing vox. The lyrics and their lazy melody turn five words into a cutting mantra that—like great Britpop—is one part heartache and one part sneering indifference, built for the sweaty club as much as the arena.
Maybe this makes The Big Pink derivative from the start, but to their credit (and that of producer Alan Moulder, who likely mixed albums by artists who inspired these guys) this is some sonically intense, skillfully varied reconstitution. A Brief History of Love is no one-hit or one-note release. In the absence of significant output from your MBVs and JAMCs, your Curves and Blurs, “Dominos” and the rest of the album surrounding it swiftly and powerfully survey musical territories beholden to the Queen for the better part of the last 30 years.