Love is a tricky subject to tackle for artists. There’s always the danger of sounding too cheesy or worst, pretentious and removed – like some sort of subhuman Ziggy Stardust throwing moons and stars as metaphors for relationships.
Calling themselves The Big Pink and their debut album A Brief History of Love, multi-instrumentalists and long-time friends Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell have a lot to live up to. At first glance, their album’s cover shows a black and white picture of suspicious-looking semi-nude chick. But the duo’s attempt to look and sound erotic-arty ends there (unless you count their Myspace pictures as well).
Both Robbie and Milo have impressive past credentials. Robbie (vocals, guitar, programming) was the former guitarist for electro punk singer Alec Empire (of Atari Teenage Riot) and also a founding member of the band Panic DHH. He runs the record label Hate Channel with Milo (keyboards, synthesizer, vocals, programming), who is the son of 1960s pop producer Denny Cordell. Milo in turn runs the Merok label, which has released material by Klaxons and Crystal Castles.
So far, the lads have released 3 epic stadium electro rock singles with the grooviest being this year’s super-infectious sleeper-hit ‘Dominos’. And it’s clear from the rest of A Brief History of Love that everything about The Big Pink is, well, Big with a capital B. From their heavy, crunching distorted guitars and overblown synths to exploding hip hop-ish drumbeats courtesy of female Japanese drummer Akiko Matsuura to the tear-apart-your-heart lyrics, The Big Pink sounds as vast as the human emotional spectrum. And NME picked up on this, awarding them the Philip Hall Radar Award for best new act.
Some might say that The Big Pink is close to Jesus and The Mary Chain and The Stone Roses. However between the shoegazing, new wave-ing and electro rockin’ lays the secret to their success. No, it’s not catchy songs that reward listeners over and over again, nor is it surreal-sounding effect pedals and a beefed up production at Electric Ladyland Studios (the studio that Jimi Hendrix built). But it’s the willingness for The Big Pink to sing about love without actually acknowledging it as love, confirming that no one can ever truly understand this mystifying gift/curse.
At times, questionable lyrics like “if you really love him, tell me that you love him again…” (‘Love In Vain’) gets to you and you start to think that this is The All-American Rejects in some badly-twisted electro-disguise. But then the music answers back and doubt is laid to rest with a simple “…then go”.
A Brief History of Love might not be the answer to all your love woes, but those seeking shelter here will find that The Big Pink reminds us that we’re not alone. Lest we want to be.
A Brief History of Love (4AD) is available at all good records stores. Show some love at www.myspace.com/musicfromthebigpink