The’90s was a great time for shoegazers. The genre had matured and got close to being mainstream. For a time there seemed to be no shortage of bands who hoped to become the next Cure.
As the goth sound grew in popularity, the genre would spit in multiple directions while losing some of its irony and edge. One of the more interesting of those diversions came in the late ’80s in the form of Opal who eventually became Mazzy Star. The California based band looked backwards into folk and psychedelic traditions to create a deeply atmospheric and moody soundscape.
Any of Mazzy Star’s five albums presented a rustic sound that could be traced to the late ’60s, (especially that first one). The most startling thing however was the way lead vocalist Hope Sandoval could channel a deep well of foggy psychedelic murk without sounding too novel or retro. Her often slow and haunting phrasing was often framed by prominent electric and acoustic guitars in the background. The ensemble sounded just vintage enough thanks to the use of Telecasters and the occasional xylophone to be exotic yet substantial.
So when the band just seemed to disappear after 1996’s excellent Among My Swan, it was upsetting for fans who just had to get their fix of psychedelic melancholy. Nearly two decades later Hope Sandoval and David Roback wrapped things up for good with the equally impressive Seasons of Your Day.
Stylistically, it seems that not much more than a year went by as Sandoval and Roback settled back into a familiar song writing method. One of their tools involves a solid vocal melody and a secondary one usually carried by two or more guitars. This seamless progression from Among My Swan happened because the songwriting duo went to work and stayed at it for years after not having a record contract.
As such Seasons of Your Day combined a few contemporary influences in a somewhat updated dark and dreamy soundscape. Hope Sandoval’s voice seemed to improve with time and she really had a shot at becoming the next Stevie Nicks to the mystery girl set. Two maxi-singles (“Common Burn”/Lay Myself Down” and “Seasons of Your day”/”Sparrow”) spread out over nearly a year kept the band in the public spotlight. The formula however was timeless enough as the album cracked the top 50 Billboard chart in America and did even better in the UK where it became the band’s most successful LP.
Mazzy Star is of course no more. Seasons of Your Day was a fitting way to go out. Fortunately, for fans of Mazzy Star, Hope Sandoval can still be heard on the excellent 2016 Until The Hunter with The Warm Inventions.