Pink Mountaintops | Outside Love
Most Likely To: be found in the company of a bottle of whiskey and a bucket of tears.
The third full-length from Vancouver’s Pink Mountaintops, Outside Love, occupies the space where jam bands, Stephin Merritt, and the Jesus and Mary Chain intersect. Pink Mountaintops is helmed by Vancouver scene mainstay Stephen McBean, who staffs his band with a variety of Canadian cronies who vary from record to record and tour to tour. McBean is the same plaid-wearing, bearded dude who presides over Black Mountain. Similarities between the two bands abound, but Pink Mountaintops is more like Black Mountain’s fraternal twin than a typical side-project.
Outside Love keeps pace with the band’s previous releases, Pink Mountaintops (2004), and Axis of Evol (2006). McBean’s not afraid to confound listeners by recycling words like in a variety of contexts, such as Outside Love’s lead off track “Axis: Thrones of Love.”
The quiet nightmare of “While We Were Dreaming,” shows that almost anything can emerge from Outside Love’s dusty corners, and it’s not always pretty: “Then, if I could find your heart / I would pull it from your chest / And smash you with my fist / ‘til it was beating.’” Now, that’s the kind of love that makes a life of celibacy sound appealing!
Skillful, but never overly complex, Outside Love’s instrumentation is the perfect backdrop for the record’s coal black lyrics. “Execution” melds key-shaking percussion and a resonant, warbling guitar to layered male-female vocals. “Vampire” is an unholy marriage of heavenly strings and distorted guitar, while “The Gayest of Sunbeams” pairs surf-punk distortion with an incinerating guitar line.
Even though much of Outside Love is dark, it’s still hopeful. “And I Thank You” captures the record’s spirit, as it shines its light “ In those dark places / Where no one belongs / Or have been shattered / And thrown to the wolves.” Drenched in melancholy lap steel, the song also boasts the year’s most heart-rending chorus: “I ain’t livin’ no long, lonesome nights / I’ve stopped calling that woman my wife / I see light at the end of this storm leaving home / And I thank you.”