Staying Gold: The Big Pink Loosens Up For Sophomore Release
The Big Pink's debut album, "A Brief History of Love" (4AD), was released in 2009 and did quite well, particularly for a British band breaking into the United States. The set has sold 32,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and the duo's lush, electronic-based rock earned an NME Award for best new act, landed a Jaguar ad (for single "Dominos") and was sampled by rap producer JR Rotem for "Girls Fall Like Dominoes," an iTunes bonus track on Nicki Minaj's "Pink Friday." Despite the success, though, the members weren't sure the album properly represented them.
"We always see the good in everything, and I don't think that kind of came across in our first record," says Milo Cordell (son of late producer Denny Cofrdell), who makes up the Big Pink with guitarist/singer Robbie Furze. "We are really positive people. Everything's been incredible, but we really tripped ourselves up with the old songs because the only way we could turn up the intensity was by literally turning up the volume."
It wasn't an issue with the music, but rather the tempo -- the songs on their debut stayed in the middle range and were a smidge dark. For a band that was always on the road -- including four American tours since the album's release, according to 4AD label manager Nabil Ayers -- the Big Pink needed its live show to explode. So for follow-up "Future This," arriving Jan. 13 on 4AD, the group set about to create an album that translated its energy and outlook: one that mined anthemic, sweet and optimistic pop chords propelled by thick, bass-heavy beats.
"The first record was quite city-like, concrete, black and white," Cordell says, "and this one maybe flows more like a river. It's much looser and it's got more swing in it. It just flows nicer." The river metaphor might sound a bit dramatic, but glimmering songs like "The Palace (So Cool)" and "13" blend into each other seamlessly, their rhythmic crunch a common thread. The duo was inspired by such electronic favorites as Aphex Twin and Crystal Castles (Cordell's label Merok Records released early cuts by the latter), as well as hip-hop, as evidenced by the sweeping Araabmuzik remix commissioned for lead single "Stay Gold," which even includes a druggy verse by rapper Danny Brown. "I've always been into hip-hop really," Cordell says. "Rob and I always bonded over hip-hop and Weezer."
Video: The Big Pink, "Stay Gold"
Recorded last summer in the band's East London studio, "Future This" also features cover art by famous graffiti artist KR (he of Krink), alluding to Cordell's youth as a graff writer. "Even now, I carry a pen around in my pocket," he says.
Crucial to the duo's fusing of explosive static rock and its more acute influences- -along with a newfound stash of Abelton software and an MPC sampler- -was working for the first time with producer Paul Epworth ( Adele, Bloc Party, Florence & the Machine), who helped loosen up the process despite being a stickler.
"He worked us really hard, like a movie, like we were training with some kind of karate teacher, breaking blocks of wood with our fingers for hours on end," Cordell says. "But it was great for us because we get too much into our comfort zone. Recording yourself, you lose your mind, thinking for six hours that the sound of one high-hat is the biggest thing in the world. Epworth was a complete relief."
The Big Pink's live show is shifting, too -- the members are looking forward to translating the elated energy they sought to audiences -- and worldwide tour plans are in the works, along with TV (to be announced) and spots on major 2012 festivals.
"The idea of us going out and playing the same songs in the same way every night almost killed us last time," Cordell says. "So this time we've got the power, the knowledge and the equipment to do a different show every night and keep it fresh."