When Santa Monica natives Mazzy Star released a new song, “California,” last week—a preview of their first album in 17 years—we all took a wonderful trip down memory lane.
Channeling the moody blues of the ‘90s through a combination of Dave Roback’s woozy guitars and singer Hope Sandoval’s haunting vocals, the group has perfected the art of crafting grand statements with simple techniques. And even though Mazzy Star has been absent for a while, the group’s reign of dream pop lingered on whenever we heard “Fade Into You” play on the radio or on an old mixtape. In anticipation of their new album, Seasons of Your Day—which is set for a Sept. 24 release—we’ve counted down some of our favorite Mazzy Star songs below.
Roback’s dark guitar chords shroud this song in a heavy fog, underscored by Sandoval’s sleepy musings on a mysterious woman and the “secrets in her lipstick mouth.”
With its steady, shuffling rhythms and tried-and-true drowsy vocals, the song is a classic Mazzy Star song that sounds like a daydream in motion.
William Reid from the Jesus and Mary Chain guests on this guitar-led track, where his ringing chords rip through the middle of this foggy rock song.
An organ-led number, the gothic stylings of “Mary of Silence” recall an Emily Dickinson poem, especially when Sandoval sings the dark lines, “I look in, in your window, to check my head in your pane. My last thoughts, they come to me. I can’t take the pain.”
In “Flowers in December,” violins are paired with subtle percussion and harmonica to add fuel to the fire that is this sepia-toned nostalgia trip.
A cover of Arthur Lee’s original—Mazzy Star’s subdued take does justice to the original, but also slows it down into a delicately sentimental number.
Mazzy Star’s debut album included a few tracks whose melodies seemed to dissolve entirely in the hazy atmospherics and hypnotic rhythms. We’ll count them as good listens, but ultimately forgettable. Unlike the others, the up-tempo garage rock tune “Blue Flower” is by far one of the sunnier standouts in their discography and previews Sandoval’s contributions as a vocalist for the Jesus and Mary Chain.
This track saw a revival in the last few years when it appeared in a 2009 commercial for Virgin Media and on a trailer for Gears of War 3. It’s a slow, gloomy number from the group which sees Sandoval lamenting a dying relationship.
The high note of She Hangs Brightly, “Halah” is an unforgettable break-up song for those who are still having trouble moving on. Sandoval drawls, “Baby, won’t you change your mind?” over simple guitar hooks from Roback. The music and lyrics fully capture the sting of the loneliness blues, making this song one of Mazzy Star’s finest.
The entirety of Mazzy Star’s discography seems to be overshadowed by one track, “Fade Into You,” one that kicked off So That I Might See and set the bar for a host of other female folk-pop imitators. However, it’s hard to argue with just how great this song is. From big screen to small screen soundtrack plays, or on a personal level—in bedroom brooding sessions—the song speaks volumes. It’s difficult to nail down whether the song is strictly anti-romance or about something more philosophical, when Sandoval sings, “I look to you and I see nothing / I look to you to see the truth.” No matter the sentiment, though, we’re prepared to fade into whatever deep emotion Sandoval is crooning about.