Over the past few years, Pink Mountaintops has provided Stephen McBean with an
outlet to pursue a different style of songwriting. With his main band, Black Mountain,
McBean explores the darker corners of druggy, progressive psychedelic rock.
Pink Mountaintops, his “solo” project that actually involves quite a bit of
collaboration, has been more lo-fi and experimental, with cheap synths and drum
machines often standing in for vintage organs and full drum kits.
On Outside Love, however, McBean has opted for a fuller, more textured sound than on previous
Pink Mountaintops releases. “Axis: Thrones of Love” opens the album with
spacey, echo chamber production and Black Mountain’s Ashley Webber singing
along with McBean. Webber actually takes the reigns on a few tracks, including
the serenely moping “While You Were Dreaming.” It’s not until the sing-along “Holiday” kicks off, a fuzzy folk ditty that gallops
joyfully along, that the new album truly takes flight.
There is no doubt that Outside
Love has upped the ante for Pink Mountaintops in terms of instrumentation
and complexity. But for all McBean’s evident talent and the rock and roll
history that informs his writing, one can’t help but miss a tinny classic
rock/electro hybrid like “New Drug Queens.”
Standout Tracks: “Execution,”
“Holiday” JONAH FLICKER