Published Apr 23, 2009If Pink Mountaintops' debut was about sex and Axis of Evol about politics, then the theme of album number three is love or, as the title says, being outside of it. Sure, we've seen the topic in the previous work of Stephen McBean - the head rock'n'roll mystic behind Pink Mountaintops and its Black counterpart - but never has it been so up front and centre as on Outside Love. McBean is no sap and this isn't some album of gushy love songs though. In fact, the record is Pink Mountaintops at their most diverse and eccentric, digging into everything from drum machine-led guitar stomps ("Execution") to folk noir séances (the Jesse Sykes-sung title track) to epic, choir-filled space pop ("Axis: Thrones of Love"). And even when McBean puts his most romantic foot forward, the ballads come across as strung-out art folk love-ins, minus any whiffs of cheese but genuine all the same. And it's that honest, heartfelt feeling that sets Outside Love apart from much of the McBean canon - it sounds from the heart, no Sabbath riffs required.
In your mind, how does this Pink Mountaintops record stand apart from the previous two?
McBean: More joy, more misery, more friends, more fuzz and more fun room! The recording was an afterthought, as opposed to the premise, which changed the way the songs presented themselves. Everything was more at ease.
What made you want to step away from the mic for a few tracks and let your female cohorts take the lead?
It seemed like the gentlemanly thing to do. Some of the songs weren't chasing me - they were disinterested so I had to trick them into coming back home. I also wanted the concept to stand on its own without the weight of being attached to a singular voice.
Could you shed some light on the title and what you're trying to convey with it?
People who hate the world will always find someone that makes everything alright for at least a few hours. There are still girls that sit alone in hallways and draw portraits of Jim Morrison or Robert Smith.
Did you read any romance novels before, during or after recording Outside Love?
No, but I strolled [along] the French Riviera. (Jagjaguwar)