Mojave 3
w/Sid Hillman Quartet

Crocodile, 441-5611, Thurs March 1.

Most of the time, regret is perceived to be a stalling emotion based in afterthought. Things fall apart; we look back in sadness; and we regret our actions and the outcome they precipitated. But if you look at it in another light, the fear of regret sets our actions in motion. By looking ahead and envisioning feeling awful in the very near future, we deny ourselves our heart's desire only to set ourselves up to feel awful for the rest of our lives. Perhaps it would have ended badly, and you'd have felt bereft for a bit. But how such transient regret shrinks in the face of a lifetime of looking back.

Mojave 3 has built an impressive catalog of recorded material based upon regret's cyclical nature. Born of the demise of early '90s shoegazers Slowdive, Mojave 3 lightens the load somewhat in terms of that band's headstrong bluster, but ratchets the emotional anguish even higher by incorporating grieving pedal steel guitar lines and wobbling harmonica exhalations. Over the course of three albums, singers Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell have dragged their weary, beautiful voices across pools of despair and gulfs of exhausted longing, to soul-ravaging effect. Out of Tune provided a cautionary kick in the heart with "Keep It All Hid" ("You keep it all hid like you're waiting for the guillotine to fall"), before the tragic album-ender "To Whom Should I Write" found Halstead ticking off in his mind which unforgotten lover he should compose a letter to.

Last year's Excuses for Travellers featured more stories of letters that should have been sent sooner and other missed chances. "Suddenly everything fell out of place/You burned all your bridges/'cause you grew up too late/and the people you love are just so far away/When you're drifting" ("When You're Drifting"). We'd all do well to take a lesson from the bedraggled losers in Mojave 3--safe, but forever sorry. "I had a plan that was built on thinking too long," sighs one of them in "In Love with a View." He doesn't have to tell us how it ended. At least once in each of our lives, we've thought too long as well.