Mojave 3 likely grew tired of the words "Mazzy Star" being thrown into the otherwise encouraging reviews of their sparkling, twinkling Ask Me Tomorrow. So, the band keeps the sound but expands the style to incorporate gaping helpings of Dylan, from Blonde on Blonde to Nashville Skyline. Bullseye. Only one song is as amazing and heart-tugging as Ask Me Tomorrow's "Love Songs on the Radio" and "Candle Song": "Give What You Take" actually reconfigures Slowdive's propensity for waves of luscious hooks, led by Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell's still otherworldly, wonderfully brother-and-sister-like (actually they are an ex-couple) harmonies. One can easily take issue with their decision to cut Goswell's spectacular throat out of the lead vocal equation after seven years, but as she remains a force on Halstead's choruses, singing countermelodies at his side, it's hard to quibble too much. The songs tickle by, softly floating timelessly, tirelessly, and the vocals are like a pillow for your head as you listen, enraptured, on the single "Some Kinda Angel," another first-rate piece of unhurried pop, and the more gripping "Keep It All Hid" and the gurgling "Baby's Coming Home." Not so much laconic as measured, the Mojave five perch on the precipice of masterpiece, with subtle keyboards, an absolutely sorrowful lap steel on "Give What You Take," and tasteful brass on two others. The only time the LP stumbles briefly is on the unplugged number, "Yer Feet," and only because Halstead foolishly slurs like Dylan, vaulting over the line of inspiration into cheap imitation. ("Who Do You Love" also borrows a little too heavily in vocal mannerism from the one-time Robert Zimmerman, but gets away with it more, thanks to the lush backing track.) The rest is gold, baby. Out of Tune may well be the least English record made in those isles -- the cover shot of surfers hints that California is the place, but Neil Young's folky California, not the Wilson/Love/Jardine slice -- and, in this case, profits for it.
© Jack Rabid /TiVo