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River Deep, Mountain High: Pink Mountaintops materialize at the Independent

You have to hand it to Pink Mountaintops -- moving a mountain of members (supposedly 18 strong at one time) to make such puckish, bitingly sweet tunes. They're all over the Vancouver band's new album, Outside Love (Jagjaguwar). And just who are these mysterious Mountaintops? An offshoot of the collective -- led by mastermind Stephen McBean -- that feeds into the much heavier, hard-rocking psych group Black Mountain: Imagine that outfit dissolving in a sugary cotton-candy sea of fluffy, ambiguous, inviting pink and all that hue’s flash, fleshsome associations, roving from Japanese “pink” movies to “Pink Moon.” Tender, romantic and often bristling with distortion and delightfully OTT arrangements, Pink Mountaintops climb down from the rocky peaks of pop to grace us with their presence Sunday, Sept. 20, at the Independent.



There’s a lot to love about Outside Love -- though it’s been three years since the ensemble's second LP, Axis of Evol (Jagjaguwar). What does one make of a song titled “The Gayest of Sunbeams,” which matches its grinning title with Krautrock beats and Suicide-al grinding, chirping synths? Or “Vampire,” a tune for our Twilight-fixated times, with its C&W melancholy and elegiac strings. “Kiss me, I’m turning blue / I’m heading to the darkness, I’m on the loose,” wails McBean. “Lover, I simply won’t lie down and die... Creatures in flight / Let’s be creatures of the night.”

Juxtapose that dream of freedom with the carefree “Holiday,” a number that gives the slightest wink to the Sex Pistols amid sunny harmonica, “Kumbaya” handclaps and insect-like keyboard buzz. Often you can find McBean hiding behind a wall of girlish voices, but I prefer heartbreakers like closer “Close to Heaven.” The angelic choir is still in the house, but here McBean's diehard romantic appears to have bared his breast, while the song unabashedly borrows its wings from doo-wop's “Up on the Roof,” country music’s pedal steel, and shoegazer’s narcotic drone. The Drifters meet the Jesus and Mary Chain in the chapel of love -- Pink Mountaintops just may take you higher. 



Pink Mountaintops play Sunday, Sept. 20, 8 p.m., at the Independent, 628 Divisadero St., SF. The Pack AD opens. $12. (415) 771-1422, www.theindependentsf.com