Hope Sandoval's project with My Bloody Valentine's Colm O'Coisog, the Warm Inventions, has been on hiatus for nearly a decade. Enter Until the Hunter, an ethereal, moon-soaked journey for the senses. For those who are unfamiliar with Sandoval, who made her name in the 90s fronting dream pop icons Mazzy Star (link), this album is a welcome introduction to the one of the OG moody songstresses. For the rest of us, it's a grand return.
Listening to Until the Hunter, one can't help but picture the kind of things one would see in a Renaissance-era fairy tale—"The Hiking Song," a particularly languorous track, evokes going through nature, foraging streams, and climbing through misty hills. The effect is only heightened by Sandoval's ever-floaty vocals, which pair perfectly with the song's moody, beckoning lyrics: "Don't you see your concern is on the ground? / Let's take a hike up in the hills."
It would be easy to peg the entire record as a soothing dreamscape, but this album proves itself by the way it grows and flexes it's emotional muscles despite an overlaying mood of mysticism. Sandoval and O'Coisog stick to hypnotic, looping beats and electronic flourishes for the first part of the record, a tone set by the atmospherically excellent "Into the Trees." It's through this parade of Lana Del Rey-esque moaning and longing that you see, progressively, upbeat changes. The Kurt Vile duet "Let Me Get There" is where the album starts to pick up speed as an upbeat record, and Vile's warm, earthy vocals are a nice contrast with Sandoval's moodiness. By the time "Liquid Lady" plays, with it's full-on electric guitar solos and drums, it's almost like you're listening to a completely different record.
At it's core, this is a contemplation: Sandoval sings "Sometimes I feel dread" on "The Peasant;" outside of the mystical and nearly-medieval mythology running through the album, the reflections are sometimes simple, lost in the looping beats. This album's reflections always hold depth, but they need not be complicated; they can. be as simple as heavy tones and whispered vocals.
This is a grand return, if there was ever any doubt.
Until the Hunter is out now. Watch the official video for "Let Me Get There (feat. Kurt Vile) below.