Primal Scream, The Clash, Oasis, Bowie, The Smiths: Pink Mountaintops‘ fourth album Get Back simultaneously sounds like none of these and all of them, says Niall McGuirk
Their fourth album, but first since 2009’s Outside Love, Pink Mountaintops were part of that very loose collective of musicians that have brought us bands like God Speed You Black Emperor. Geography was their common link but that is now gone with main man Stephen McBean’s move to LA. Musically you wouldn’t associate either band with each other.
Pink Mountaintops have the sound of an attitude; one that plays rock’n’roll and hangs around with Bobby Gillespie. Again, they don’t sound like Primal Scream, but you can imagine them sneering at each other.
Aforementioned main songwriter Stephen McBean says the album is influenced by “Alleys, curbs, walls and cigarette stained gig flyers. The beauty of youth”. If the soundtrack to those streets included a Clash covers band hanging around somewhere then there could be some truth in that. Again, they sound nothing like the Clash, but you can imagine Paul Simenon with his low slung bass providing some riffs as suggestions as they sneer at each other.
You have to stick this on loud. It won’t work as background music, and will never be played in a supermarket. However if you crank up the volume you can almost feel like Oasis are bopping along. Again, they sound nothing like Oasis but you can imagine a slight grudging respect from each band to the other as they sneer over the instruments.
McBean sings on Sell Your Soul that he sold his soul to the rock’n’roll and you can imagine a young Stephen in a bedroom in Vancouver standing in front of the mirror shaping to David Bowie. Again, they sound nothing like Bowie but you can certainly imagine the shapes being rehearsed in the mirror.
And then sometimes, especially with Wheels, I close my eyes and imagine Morrissey. Again, Pink Mountaintops sound nothing like the Smiths but you can imagine some flowers being thrown away somewhere within the sound.
There’s even slide guitar, brass and keyboards to add to the mix – all in all the sound itself is a rock’n’roll beast to move, but then again what does rock’n’roll mean to you? If it’s quiffs and Imelda Maye we are on a different page but if it’s Bobby Gillespie and attitude with a rhythmic beat then we are together with the beast. This had me moving in my seat which is always a positive sign, isn’t it?
North Hollywood Microwaves with its basic beat and background brass got my head moving. It’s like one of those icepops you want on a cold day. You’re walking down the road dreaming of revolution when suddenly someone walks past with a calippo. Bang, you want one. It was the furthest thing from your mind but given a nudge in that direction you’re game. I’m like that with Pink Mountaintops, hadn’t thought about them in years and never missed them but Get back has been pressed onto my radar and I’m in.
So now you know who they don’t sound like… but in reality they are the ingredients that constitute Get Back, so I take it all back – they do sound like all of the above.
If that’s possible.