Reboots Scott Walker and the androgynous end of 90s Britpop into distinctive darkwave.
Adam Kennedy 2011-04-04
Morphing underground noise scene origins into something more befitting 1980s Sheffield, Cold Cave's 2009 debut Love Comes Close betrayed its ultimate impact from title down. Despite the emotion poured in, a crucial longevity was missing. It didn't quite sate desires sufficiently for fans to consider a monogamous relationship with the New York-based outfit.
This time around, though, it's the real thing. Cherish the Light Years is, apparently, the record frontman Wesley Eisold always wanted to make. And, boy, does that shine through.
The not-so-straightforward story so far: Eisold spends much of the 2000s getting in the van with spazzed-out US hardcorers American Nightmare and Some Girls, none other than Fall Out Boy infamously half-inching a bunch of his lyrics along the way. Which past aural exhibits do little to unravel Cold Cave, wherein Eisold reboots influences from Scott Walker and the androgynous end of 1990s Britpop into distinctive darkwave pop.
From the crashing, urgently dramatic announcing bars of The Great Pan Is Dead, sheens of gothic 1980s veneer actually conceal something much deeper, more uncomfortable. A nocturnal shot of adrenaline to the heart of a paranoid urban dweller, Eisold's coal-black, almost deadpan delivery booms over synths at times misleadingly bright and airy.
Burning Sage clunks back to industrialist origins, percussion more iron lung than the "black lung" Eisold talks of throughout, while Underworld USA brims over with darkly heartfelt declarations, notably the heart-nudgingly sweet-slash-deranged couplet, "I will love you with all of the love that I have / Even if that means there's none left for me".
As Villains of the Moon heads off danger of lyrical cliché with charcoal-hearted intent – sample lyric: "Do you die in your dreams? / I don't even have them" – you're left with a sensation that this is what the much-maligned cold wave sound should have achieved. But it's Underworld USA that claims the most telling lyric, Eisold imploring somebody – anybody – to "Take me to the future / I'm ready". No need, Cold Cave; you're already outrunning most the competition in that particular direction, with one eye cast approvingly to the past.