The Big Pink’s A Brief History of Love is exactly the kind of album I wish had existed when I was 14. That’s not a dig at the record; one of the more special things that a group can do musically is create a sound that appeals both to teenagers and adults. It’s no mean feat to be obvious enough to get at the heart of the modern teenager, and at the same time cut through all of the protective bullshit that your average “musically conscious” individual purveys, so that they can appear to have “good taste.”
Early singles “Too Young to Love” and “Velvet” play up the band’s tendency toward electronics and noise, but listening to A Brief History it becomes clear that the strongest unifying element of the Big Pink’s work up to this point is their angsty obsession with love. Every track except for the opener is a spiteful, or sad, or aggressive ode to love, with the word being dropped so much that you don’t even notice. The Big Pink are mostly angry or callous, but on album track “Love in Vain” they aim for hurt and hit it for the most part, as if to prove that boys do cry.
That certainly seems like a demerit and not a credit, that the Big Pink appear to be singularly obsessed with love, but their ambivalence toward it is one of the things that gives A Brief History its turbulent, urgent feel. The band can’t decide if they long for the ladies or disdain them, and in that way, it feels even more analogous to the strife-laden season of adolescence. At what other time do a person’s emotions seem so effusive, confusing, and misdirected?
All of the above is tempered by a consistent air of aggression, with the exception of tracks “Love in Vain” and “Tonight,” to make A Brief History of Love feel like an unmistakably male album. It certainly doesn’t help that the record’s most single-worthy track, the stadium-size “Dominos,” is all about praising the virtues of the throw-away girl, with vocalist Robbie Furze singing “As soon as I love her it’s been too long.” The appeal of the album certainly isn’t gender exclusive, but it’s certainly easy to see why sentiments like that one, and others expressed on the album, seem genetically engineered for the love of teenage boys.
Milo Cordell is the founder of Merok records, which has dropped releases from Telepathe, Salem, Teengirl Fantasy, and more highly bloggable bands than you can shake a stick at and vocalist Robbie Furze was a guitarist for Alec Empire; that’s a pedigree that no amount of 15-year-olds at a concert could dilute. With that knowledge, you older but aesthetically conscious music fan, the next time you see a group of 15-year-olds listening to Paramore, maybe try to steer them toward the Big Pink.