In The [Big] Pink

<b>The Big Pink</b> have produced one of the most talked about debut albums in ages, but on the day of its release, is the pressure beginning to show?

Feature by Paul Mitchell | 29 Sep 2009

The Skinny catches up with Milo Cordell, one half of the electro-pop duo The Big Pink on the day their debut album A Brief History of Love has been released, wondering if we've interrupted a flurry of celebratory excitement. “Actually, it feels like your birthday," Cordell says. "When you’re kind of expecting something amazing to occur but nothing’s quite happened yet. I’ve been on the phone, done some washing and I’ve got to go to rehearsal in a minute.” That would be a 'no' then. He has however, taken time out to read the reviews, which have appeared en masse in most of the national titles, the BBC website, and of course, this venerable publication. The music press has well and truly taken note of these guys, and big things, it seems, are expected.

“The publicity so far’s been great. We’ve won the NME thing [Philip Hall Radar Award for Best New Act] and featured in a BBC poll, having only released one single. It just came out of nowhere and we didn’t take it too seriously. Up until this point it’s just been about us making records and going on tour. Now we’ve come to a point where those awards seem to have raised expectation levels, and now in the last few weeks the reality has kicked in where it’s not just about making music, it’s about selling music as well.” So, no pressure then? Cordell laughs. “Actually talking to you now I’m just realising that there might be.”

The aforementioned reviews have in fact been generally quite enthusiastic, though one particular My Bloody Valentine-shaped spectre looms large in almost all of them. Cordell is unsure whether this may prove a help or a hindrance. “I think it’s unfair to always compare us to MBV but I think we are indebted to Kevin Shields in particular. I think his production is fantastic and we are certainly influenced by it. Really what we like is the Phil Spector wall of sound method and the stuff he did with girl groups like The Ronettes, and The Crystals in the 60s. At the same time, people say things to us like ‘Oh, you sound like Chapterhouse, or Echo and the Bunnymen’, but the thing is I’ve never listened to those bands in my life. We get a lot of comparisons vocally with Richard Ashcroft. I know for a fact Robbie [Furze, bandmate] has never listened to The Verve in his life. Now in retrospect I can see the similarities, but it’s just not his thing at all.”

What might help explain the astonishing level of early awareness is the fact that both Cordell and Furze are eminently well-connected (the ubiquitous Lily Allen is a pal) and have already run their own record labels (Cordell’s Merok Records featured early releases by The Klaxons and Crystal Castles). Still, there is a certain amount of bristling when it’s mentioned that they have been disparagingly derided as mere ‘scenesters’. “We do have a lot of friends we like to play music with and that keeps things fresh, but I don’t even know what that word means. It is a horrible expression but it also seems to be born out of jealousy of other people doing something. Maybe when someone walks past a venue and looks at a bunch of kids having a really good time, jumping off the bar, they’ll say something like: ‘That place is full of scenesters’. If that’s scenesters I want in. I think those comments are maybe made by people who are past the age of having fun, or people of the same age who just aren’t having any fun… that’s all it is.”

The theme of love is certainly well-worn in the realm of arts and literature, but Cordell feels there is always room for additional perspectives to be added to the canon. “Without wanting to sound cheesy - though I know I will - love is a fundamental aspect of our existence. I was talking to a friend the other day and we discussed the fact that the meaning of life is to reproduce. If you don’t reproduce there is nothing else, it’s over. To reproduce is sex, and in humans sex often comes from love, so basically love is the meaning of life.” OK, that ‘cheesy’ warning was well-advised, but Cordell goes on to explain his stance in the context of the album. “Love outdates culture, language even. I think people were in love before they could speak. I’m not saying love is always good. It can also be really bad. It can provoke very negative feelings, jealousy, paranoia, rejection; we tried to encompass every aspect of that in the album, not just the happy happy, sunshine and holding hands routine, but also love in its darkest form, all its natural forms. So it’s a sad record as well as a joyful record.”

Playing King Tut's, Glasgow, on 14 Oct

A Brief History of Love is out now on 4AD Records