March 4, 2011

Album Review: Cold Cave's Cherish the Light Years

We were first introduced to New York City's Cold Cave back in 2009 under fairly derivative and image-conscious pretenses when the black-clad band released their Matador debut, Love Comes Close. The brainchild of former American Nightmare / Give Up the Ghost lead singer, Wesley Eisold, Cold Cave presented itself as devotees to synth-laden goth pop indebted heavily to your usual suspects of '80s new wave (Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, The Cure, Bauhaus, Psychedelic Furs -- Basically any band with an affinity toward mopey lyrics and despair.) While solid and promising, the album only proved that Cold Cave could imitate their influences well enough to pass them off as their own. On their sophomore effort, Cherish the Light Years, Cold Cave isn't quite ready to step away from the shadows of their gloomy predecessors, but they're at least willing to part with the dark veil that has restricted them to sucking the life out of the party. In fact, they are the party this time around. AwkardSound was pleasantly caught off guard by the loudness and immediacy heard in the album's opening track, "The Great Pan Is Dead." The track indicated a kinetic high-energy within Cold Cave's music that has sounded bottled in grief since their arrival onto the scene. It turns out that suspicion was correct, as Cherish the Light Years is a huge upswing for the trio filled with danceable electronic pop beats masquerading as malaise. From the sharp neon guitars swirling through "Pacing Around the Church," the million-beats-per-minute drum machine punching its way through "Catacombs" or the way "Underworld USA" may as well be the official anthem of cold wave kids, Wesley Eisold has changed his tune by delivering misery with a smile instead of a shrug on Cherish the Light Years. Whether it merely be following popular genre trend or becoming reassured as a vocalist, Eisold is sounding more confident in himself instead of indifferently (intentionally?) depressed. Perhaps it's because Cold Cave finds themselves in good company these days. Former tour mates, Abe Vigoda, stylized their brand of noise-pop in a similar fashion last year on Crush (You hear that in "Confetti" and "Alchemy Around You") while experimental electronic acts, Crystal Castles and M83, ventured toward like-minded celestial cohesion instead of blaring static on their most recent albums (See: "Icons of Summer.") For what it's worth, Cold Cave still portrays their derivative nature proudly on Cherish the Light Years, but it doesn't seem like this fashionable ex-hardcore frontman's goal is to change anything about the sound he and his band are emulating. Cold Cave is simply using their influences to write great pop songs, and that's the most you can hope for out of a pop band these days.

Cold Cave's Cherish the Light Years will be released April 5, 2011 on Matador Records.

1 comment:

  1. This was a great album. It's still my favorite Cold Cave material.