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Hope Sandoval

& the Warm Inventions

Rough Trade

More than four years have passed since neo-psychedelians Mazzy Star—aka hypnotist/singer Hope Sandoval and Paisley Underground patriarch/guitarist David Roback—released their third and, perhaps (who knows with these two—they barely breathe, let alone speak), final album: the lush, haunting Among My Swan, which was really just a slight variation on both 1993’s lush, haunting So Tonight That I Might See and 1990’s lush, haunting She Hangs Brightly. And although the beautifully elfin Sandoval has replaced Roback with a potentially more upbeat writing partner—My Bloody Valentine drummer Colm O’Ciosoig—for her import-only solo debut, her Mazzyfied musical intent remains intact: complete listener sedation. “Around My Smile,” the first cut on her new four-song EP, At the Doorway Again, begins with the same languid, painterly guitar strokes that kicked off just about every Mazzy tune. But the difference here is that Sandoval is singing relatively happy(!) words—even though she still delivers them as if she were a flirtatious fifth-grader crashing hard from a sugar high: “Got me going on again/Around my smile/And I’ve got a thoughtless feeling inside/I’ve got it going.” Whoa, someone’s in a partying mood. The good cheer, however, fails to last; Sandoval hasn’t changed that much: On At the Doorway Again’s remaining, increasingly depressing songs—”Charlotte,” “Sparkly,” and “Down the Steps”—the chanteuse can barely muster her vocals, and instead she shushes, coos, and moans her way through the wispy, percussionless downers. Of course, there’s something to be said for droning, turgid folk-rock that induces full-body paralysis: The open-air, acoustic soundscapes here are consistently gorgeous and ultimately soothing, and Ji-Young Moon’s weepy cello on “Down the Steps” is the perfect heartache accompaniment to Sandoval’s lilting, lulling voice. Now, who’s up for a nap? —Sean Daly