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As the co-writer and vocalist of Mazzy Star’s 1993 single “Fade into You,” Hope Sandoval was the beneficiary of one of the most unlikely (and most deserving) hit songs of the decade. It was a slow burning ballad that anticipated the slide guitar sweetness former Slowdive members would master three years later on their debut as Mojave 3–a song so delicate, it was barely there, the spectre of a song. After the surprise success of “Fade,” the band had no choice but to, releasing a final record before calling it quits. In 2001, Sandoval paired with He of the Unfathomable Surname, My Bloody Valentine’s Colm O’Ciosoig, and released their first record as the Warm Inventions. On September 1st, the better part of a decade later, they will deliver their second installment: Through the Devil Softly.
“Blanchard” is both the first single from the album and the album’s first track; sixteen years after So Tonight That I Might See, Sandoval’s heart is in that same, breathless place. If there isn’t much, musically speaking, to distinguish her work under her different aliases, it may be a virtue, not a vice. After all, no one else is as capable as Sandoval of wrenching words from lips as forlornly or dreamily. In other words, “Blanchard” doesn’t try to show the listener anything new during its five psychedelia-tinged minutes, but what it does it does well enough to make one want nothing else. It is a romantic daydream best suited for short-lived reveries on subway trains or brief blackouts during term paper writing sessions,
As elegant as it is elegiac, “Blanchard” shows that we likely need Hope Sandoval and her singular voice more than she needs us. So long as she’s content to write songs like this, we’ll be happy to hear her out.