May 18, 2011
Mazzy Star's second album was a sleeper hit in more ways than one. Roughly a year after the record's release in the fall of 1993, sumptuous opener "Fade Into You" cracked Billboard's Hot 100. Pairing singer Hope Sandoval's distant sighs and guitarist/producer David Roback's languorous pedal steel in a David Lynchian roadhouse waltz, it was the finest moment of a core duo that sounded perpetually on the brink of unconsciousness.
In another way, though, Mazzy Star's unlikely breakthrough had taken even longer. After all, So Tonight That I Might See barely modifies a signature style the band had defined on its 1990 debut: narcotic slow jams, haphazardly chasing the dark psychedelia of the Velvet Underground and the Doors into the desert night. Fragile, violin-accented Arthur Lee cover "Five String Serenade" evocatively addresses the group's occasional lack of memorable tunes, while "Mary of Silence" adds distorted freakouts over descending organ chords, and the guitar-grinding title track drones until dawn.
It was a sound also very much in keeping with Roback's prior work in California's Paisley Underground scene, as well as with the loose, rambling dream-pop of contemporaries like Galaxie 500, Slowdive and Cocteau Twins. "We don't have much to say," Sandoval murmurs on shaky acoustic reminiscence "Unreflected," then says less: "We don't have much." It was enough; the album's hazy echoes have lived drowsily on in 2000s acts as varied as Lisa Germano, the Concretes, Beach House, Grouper and Tamaryn.
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