Saddle Creek | Azure Ray | Reviews


Hold On Love

Author: MA
11/25/2003 | | | Album Review
Azure Ray have something clearly in common with the Bay Area's kings of sad-rock, Red House Painters, and that bond is their ability to perfectly portray heartbreak through song. Both attack with such melancholic force that you can virtually hear each coronary valve collapse, one by one, between notes. But where the Painters get stuck in simple instrumentation and overly-set mood, Azure Ray forge forward with electronic accolades that bond bitterness with tears of temporary insanity.

On their newest album, Hold On Love, the duo of Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor create a soundscape for the breakup of a lifetime. The slow pace of the haunting pianos and chilling cellos coupled with the sweetly saddened voice of the ladies make this record perfect for someone coping with the loss of loved one, in both ways. Songs like "We Are Mice" and the title track, "Hold On  Love," ache with such beauty that you're bound to start choking on your own tears while listening. The delicate placement of sequenced percussion and tinkering electro-chimes helps accentuate the Suzanne Vega-via-Sarah McLachlan quality of the ladies' airy vocals. Yet, at certain points in the album, Azure Ray almost sound uppity, in a Tom Waits kind of way. "Dragonfly", the ninth-track, plays on the minimal clinks of soda-pop bottles (or so it sounds like) to provide a backing for the ladies heartbreak-cabaret. While on other tracks, like "If You Fall," the two almost seem, dare I say it, happy! The song's got the be-bop ofRufus Wainwright and the twang of Crooked Fingers, not to mention the piano-pop of Billy Joel. However, Azure Ray can't seem to shake their downcast mood for too long, as the remainder of the disc is filled to the brim with dispirited gloom.

Like Mazzy Star before them, Azure Ray create heavyhearted music so well that there's no reason to force any other mode. The only danger lies in the fact that with mournful music sounding so good, who'd ever want to be joyous again? Hold On Love is an eerie masterpiece, and on top of being a haunting listen, it's also going to fatten the wallets of Prozac makers everywhere - but with tracks like "New Resolution", who cares? It's just so good
Hold On Love

Hold On Love

LP / CD / MP3