The high watermark of Mark Kozelek's career was both reminiscent of his earlier, more dour slowcore and indicative of the sombre guitar sage he'd become on early Sun Kil Moon records (before he became The Worst). Rollercoaster is a classic, a singer-songwriter record that languishes with the form in favour of sprawling, introspective tunes -- plus the odd bout of shoegaze bloodletting.
Vinyl Double LP £18.99 CAD3409
180 gram vinyl reissue 2LP on 4AD.
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9/10 Penrith Steve 20th July 2015
The eponymous album which is also known as “Rollercoaster” is probably the best Red House Painters album. It certainly contains their best song, “Grace Cathedral Park” which opens the album. The sound of the instruments fall from the speakers like the most beautiful snowfall, big flakes landing softly on the ground that’s already neatly carpeted with the white stuff. It may be an odd analogy given the first line being “A rare and blistering sun shines down / On Grace Cathedral Park”. Nevertheless, Mark Kozelek monotone-ish voice is perfect counterpoint. “Katy Song” is so sad yet beautiful and lyrically is perfectly suited to its folk-grunge plod. “Things Mean A Lot” recalls Nick Drake, perhaps “Saturday Sun” when gentle piano notes appear only to be followed by a bruising vocal echo-effect on the line “Scares you to know that we won’t be watching the same sun”. “Rollercoaster” ramps up the sadness even more “But where’s dad and where is mom, looks like from here on out it’s me and you”.It has a similar effect on me as Husker Du’s “Hardly Getting Over It”.
There are two versions of “Mistress” on the album. This first is shoegazey affair, a bit of noise that prepares us for the blunt stabs and feedback the band cook up towards the end of “Funhouse”, the second, a sublime piano ballad. The shoegaze factor is stretched further towards the end of the epic “Mother”. “Strawberry Hill” has a kind of choir on the chorus which is a nice touch. “Brown Eyes” is a great closing track. The way the band fades in midway through really lifts the song. A slowcore classic.
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