Pop quiz time, hands up who remembers the shoegaze movement of the late eighties and early nineties? Bonus question, who remembers one of the defining albums of the genre, My Bloody Valentine’s 1991 release Loveless? I can tell you one group of people who should have arms thrust quivering in the air in answer to both questions, entertainingly named Texas trio Ringo Deathstarr, who seem to have made it their mission to recreate the aforementioned album in its entirety.
Okay, so maybe that last statement was a touch unfair but upon first listen, comparisons between the two are inevitable. The wall of fuzzy guitar noise, liberal use of pitch bending effects and even the ethereal male-female vocal lines that sound lost beneath the music the majority of the time; all features both artists have in common. The question is does Mauve manage to hold its own when held up to such a shining example of how things should be done?
Unfortunately, the short answer is no. Whereas other bands of the “nu-gaze” phenomenon (as the resurgence in popularity of this type of music has come to be known) have attempted to take the sound in new and interesting directions, this smacks too much of trundling comfortably along the beaten track. Tracks like ‘Nap Time’ and lead single ‘Rip’ feel like they’ve been done before and simply better by other bands, while ‘Brightest Star’ lasts for a little less than six minutes and yet still manages to go musically nowhere at all. To be fair the latter track is an anomaly though, the vast majority of tracks are kept under three minutes with a few under four and none seem to drag in quite the same way.
All this is not to say there aren’t moments of brilliance buried within this album however. ‘Slack’ is a stand out example of the band’s ability to write a summery rock gem and ‘Waste’ manages to flit seamlessly from foot-stomping riff to the kind of chorus that Ash would be jealous of. The problem is songs like these are too few and far between to maintain listener interest; Mauve is not bad, it’s just a bit boring. Even the album art is boring. Heck, even the name is boring. Mauve, what a drab word. Like a colour for people who find purple just a shade too exciting.
The extent to which you’ll enjoy this album really comes down to whether you feel it’s acceptable to merely ape a twenty year old concept without actually trying very hard to develop it in any serious way. The good news is that there is some potential here, but until Ringo Deathstarr manage to find their musical feet in an already saturated scene with very little differentiation as it is, the most interesting thing about them remains their name.