Album Review – Mountain Lake Park by The Reds, Pinks and Purples (Tough Love Records and Slumberland Records)
Glenn Donaldson has one of the most distinctive voices in jangle-pop with his beguiling mixture of the monasterial and emotionality, which, strangely assured, seems to augment the sheer lucidity of his jangled riffs with a beautiful melancholic unease.
When a voice is so integral to the overall aesthetic of an act, it is hard to imagine how a full album could be produced from fully instrumental tracks. However, in the hands of one of the most talented musicians around, Glenn Donaldson uses this perilous starting point to crush various boundaries that his music may have been exposed to previously.
Initially, without the lyrical emotionality, his jangled riffs are given free reign to explore new depths of beautiful lucidity. As a result, the best albums include Hummingbirds, Public Fountains, and the standout Mountain Lake Park. “Felt” like riffs through an isolated aural landscape that somehow exudes a feeling of plaintive solitude.
If the average The Reds, Pinks, and Purples fan has always known that this act is capable of exceedingly beautiful levels, then Randy If You Were Here and Outer Avenues take the act in a completely different direction.
Here, the fuzz-laden, underproduced, organ-like whirr adds an odd but unmistakable hint of Scottish ethereality. It’s a sound that could accompany every lonesome walk in the dark through the streets of your long-since-visited hometown. I am not sure how I arrived at this, but it just “feels” right.
Finally, on songs like Holiday Cheer, Sea Wall, Conservatory of Flowers, and Like A Ghost Warmed Over, Donaldson moves closer to the subtle, sprightly riff-laden sounds of Hibou and Ghost Mail, with their jangle gaze and lo-fi / bedroom-pop production.
All of the drastic changes mentioned above simply work in Donaldson’s hands, while remaining so very The Reds, Pinks, and Purples. Another truly fine album from San Francisco’s finest.