Pink Tears is the debut album from Jamie from Blackley M9 (he has a thing with postcodes) who describes himself as "Goff soul // Pop tart // Laptop // Geetar" in his bio. From the park shot of the album's cover through ten songs, he takes you on a twisting, winding journey through the deepest recesses of his creative mind, moments of dark reflection contrasting with those of shiny pop tones, often next to each other. Out of potential chaos comes surprising beauty.
The email started "I’ve written recorded my debut LP in my garage in Denton, Manchester (m34) with my acoustic n a heap load of knock off plugins. I thought, or maybe was hopin you would be interested", the dropbox link didn't work first time and yet there was something that drew me to the Pink Tears album. I've had it for several weeks, played it at different times, loving it more with each listen as this most rudimentary of recordings unveiled new subtleties each time. Never judge a book by its cover.
Pink Tears never sits still in its thirty-two minutes, maybe it's the garage it was recorded in that does that to it. Scuzzy guitar, electronic loops and vocals that lie just underneath the surface combine with magical effect, the chiming hook line of Rose Hill is somehow addictive, like the thing you can't take your eyes off and the more you try the more you're sucked into it. When it drops out, you sit waiting for it to come back. This is beautiful lowest-of-the-fi pop music.
The vocals take centre stage on Your Night and it recalls the edgier end of Eels' substantial back catalogue. We don't like comparisons, but it's more the vibe that's created than the sound and again it very quickly worms its way into your affections. Nightmarer becomes a little more obtuse, darker in mood, but still strangely intoxicating. A follow-up email from Jamie (aka Pink Tears) tells us "I was trying to achieve Nirvana Bleach with tacky 80s Ministry of Sound stuff with a goth aura; with just an acoustic guitar n cheap keyboard plugins" which just adds to the intrigue.
Pink Tears starts to answer that, a weird amalgam of the most obscure track from that Ministry Of Sound compilation that's sat at the end of your alphabetical-by-artist-compilations-at-the-end CD racks and a vocal that feels completely out of sync with it, but which just works. Maybe it's the isolation of home and the isolation of the garage in which it was created coming together, but it makes perfect sense right now. Even when it stops dead, droning slowed down vocals take over and then disappear into the ether as if being sucked away by some unknown force, it doesn't feel at all out of place.
Summer Sweet 98 is gloriously garage pop, a hookline that's perfect pop and a lead vocal that declares "just like heaven, dancing through the summer rain to your heartbeat" that's so evocatively yet simply romantic. Blood Red is like three songs in one, delightful keys, a dance beat and fuzzy effect-laden guitars fighting for control, yielding then coming back. There's a simple romanticism to Rain Spells' repeated line "rain spells out your name but in different letters" that's hard to put your finger on why it's so affecting other than the repetition.
Swag starts with sampled voices, sparse slightly wonky keyboards and it feels like this might be the moment Pink Tears do ballad, especially when dreamy not-quite-there vocals sit there, making you wonder if they want you to know what they're saying. It's a little unsettling, distant, but still fascinating. Wicked Widow completes Pink Tears, tense, building in intensity, repeated lyrics drawing you in
Pink Tears is one of those records that surprises at every turn. It could have been an unmitigated disaster, but against the odds of its modest humble birth, it rises up, uses its unpredictability and natural unpolished roughness to make you love it if you like your music to not be shined to within an inch of its life. It's raw and full of imperfections - but that is its charm and if you let your guard down it'll seduce you completely and you'll be wondering just how.