The EP is much like the Mazzy Star’s music itself: it’s floating out there.
Hope Sandoval and David Roback have been at it a long time. When She Hangs Brightly dropped in 1990, many of their current fans would have been in their early teens and both artists seem to be as immune to aging as their sound. So what then do we make of a record which, for better or for worse, sounds like it could have been recorded at the same time and varies little from anything the band has done over the last 28 years. It’s an EP, a format typically released between records and often used to try something unusual or introduce the public to something which doesn’t fit inside the format of larger projects. The strength of all of Mazzy Star’s work was always in the more melodic and accessible singles which marked each record. “Hallah” remains a shimmering classic, from She Hangs Brightly. Ask anyone who was even remotely tuned in during that era if they’ve ever heard of Mazzy Star and they will undoubtedly answer “Sure… Fade Into You, right?”—arguably their biggest single from 1993’s So Tonight That I Might See.
“So Tonight that I Might See” is not likely to be high on even the most ardent fan’s list of classic Mazzy Star tracks despite it being the namesake of their most popular record. While it’ll certainly appeal to the shoegazer fans, the eight-minute alternate take rounds out the new Still EP without really adding anything of note to the original. Like the original, it’s a meandering drone of a track in which Sandoval’s breathy vocals wash in and out like waves on a shoreline. More monologue than melody, the words sound urgent and reflective and aside from a few previously unheard guitar squeaks and audible, possibly unintentional, glitches, there’s not really anything new on offer. And that’s over 25% of the record.
The rest of the record has its strengths, relatively speaking. “Quiet, the Winter Harbor” is a nice song written on the backbone of a piano and Roback’s slide guitar. Sandoval brings as much vocal melody as she can muster, sounding, as we’d expect, like it pains her to do so. “That Way Again” sounds remarkably like a patchwork of previously heard songs. It’s hard to put your finger on it but it’s almost a vague representation of numerous other familiar Mazzy Star songs and you could play a game of “Spot the Riff” while attributing them back to the previous catalog.
You might hope to get a little something more out of the title track of the EP, “Still,” but unfortunately it’s just more familiar territory. Sandoval monotonously mumbles through a narrative while Roback’s strumming, this time bare bones and acoustic, ebbs and flows in intensity.
All in all, the EP is much like the Mazzy Star’s music itself, it’s floating out there, immediately recognizable, shimmering tones and a gentle breeze of dreamy pop. But unlike the full-lengths where you often find something to help carry the weight of the more challenging tracks, this EP doesn’t have anything which a listener can really get excited about.