There aren’t many people who can get away with a nine-minute opening track, but then there aren’t many people like Hope Sandoval. While her Mazzy Star catalogue is almost untouchable, she somehow manages to leave enough energy to propel herself as Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions to similar heights.
You only need to look at the first two tracks of Until The Hunter in order to understand her breadth. Into The Trees feels like exactly that, a voyage into a dense thicket that reverberates with the winds of an electronic organ as Sandoval sounds her haunting best. It’s a song that requires patience but then rewards it, with her “I miss you” refrain being so simple and yet so memorable.
And then immediately after she’s on The Peasant, taking in more of the sister band’s roots, delicately wafting over the slide guitar like it’s early morning radio in the Midwest. Beautifully orchestrated, beautifully put together, and a fine juxtaposition next to the opening track to let us know what kind of mood Sandoval is in.
That mood happens to be playful and freewheeling, as A Wonderful Seed takes in a more languishing style, almost spoken word, while Let Me Get There is a duet of dusky country blues that sees equal strokes of light and shade. It’s arguably one of her finest songs to date under any guise, alongside the gentle picking of Day Disguise.
It’s these little detours that sets the band apart from the iconic Mazzy Star, where Sandoval seems almost in character at this stage. Here we see a few more facets of her personality, and if she is drawn towards the macabre then it feels very much like her own choice, exploring emotions with different approaches. Of course, tracks like Treasure still play to the Fade Into You crowd, but when even your biggest hits still inspire new songs it’s hard to find much fault in that, and Until The Hunter still delivers the freshest meat.