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Album Review: Cold Cave - 'Cherish The Light Years' (Matador)

The band's second is an intoxicating blend of belting tunes and utter insanity. Stadiums here we come...

The band’s second album is an intoxicatingblend of belting tunes and utter insanity

Wesley Eisold probably doesn’t consider ‘Cherish The Light Years’ an especially noisy record. The previous grounding of Cold Cave’s lynchpin was in hardcore, while his most frequent collaborator, Dominick Fernow, has released countless ejaculations of utterly horrible power electronics. This is assuredly not what Eisold and guests (an almost comedically varied bunch including Fernow, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner and members of metalcore brutes Hatebreed and neo-riot grrrls Mika Miko) offer on these nine songs.

Yet Cold Cave’s second album is the first resurgence of 2010’s trend for music featuring noisy, jarring synths getting some traction in the mainstream (MIA, Sleigh Bells, Salem). It’s also a step away from the dismissively gloomy, broadly tuneful synthpop of ‘Love Comes Close’, CC’s 2009 debut; ‘Cherish…’’s opening song, ‘The Great Pan Is Dead’: a rudely maximalist assault with what sounds like about 15 drum machines overheating at once.

Make no mistake: Cold Cave are if anything more ridiculous than before. Eisold, a published poet, is a man capable of crooning, straight of face, “With a knife in my back and a star in my eye/Oh let this life pass me by”. A brass section you’d expect to hear in a ska-punk song wrestles with a stellar, ecstatic synth riff on ‘Alchemy And You’. Considering the scattered legacy that feeds the roots of this album, and the other OTT keyboard abusers of our times, some foolishness is only right and proper. Fortunately, there’s some belting tunes to chew on too.

As much as the genre term ‘industrial’ has been abused in its time, something like ‘Pacing Around The Church’ attempts to channel the piston-pump of the oiliest factory equipment – and turn it into a kind of pop music. Eisold’s vocals, a biting monotone that’s like an amalgam of every singer on Factory Records circa 1983, make it clear that on some level, he dreams of these songs becoming phone-in-the-air anthems. ‘Underworld USA’ and the electro-pulsing ‘Icons Of Summer’, both from the album’s centre, have choruses to match the ambition.

Noel Gardner

Order a copy of Cold Cave's 'Cherish The Light Years' from Amazon
7 / 10

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