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Cold Pumas Persistent Malaise Review

Album. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

The Brighton band makes these warm, intense and persistent jams their own.

Jude Clarke 2012

Persistent Malaise is the first album from Brighton-based Cold Pumas. The band’s slightly retro sound, rich in repetitive grooves, more or less succeeds in transcending its influences, making the listening experience more than a game of spot-the-references – satisfying as that in itself can be. 

Faux Discx label boss Dan Reeves and the two Fisher brothers, Oliver and Patrick, who complete the line-up are clearly no strangers to the work of krautrock mainstays Can, for example. The motorik pace of opening track A Versatile Gift along with Fog Cutter, The Modernist Crown and Rayon Gris makes this clear, along with the general repetition – of guitar riffs, percussive beats and vocal lines – throughout.

Although this occasionally palls – as on the slightly mundane and overly samey The Modernist Crown, or the too-long Vanishing Point – the deft use of dynamics and subtle pace changes within a track (Sherry Island, the wholly instrumental Variety Lights) generally ensure the sound is invigorating and often borderline hypnotic.

Despite the Joy Division-like post-punk spike that is also much in evidence, the band never plumbs comparable depths of alienation. Puce Moment offsets its bleak tones with what sounds like surf guitar; Variety Lights drops some trippy synths in towards the track’s end; and the appealing Rayon Gris brings dual vocals that come close to harmony.

It is perhaps these warm, often melodic, vocals that most soften Cold Pumas’ otherwise potentially forbidding edges. Sherry Island’s melody and sing-song delivery wouldn’t have sounded out of place alongside The Stone Roses on Spike Island (the title perhaps a deliberate nod?).

If the album suffers slightly, taken as a whole, from its similarity of the pace throughout, and the absence of one or two killer tunes or riffs that might outlast its running time, it nevertheless has much to appreciate. Constructed around snippets of influence from 70s Germany, Manchester bands of the 80s and 90s (with even a bit of post-punk NYC thrown in for the closing track’s Blondie-like guitar intro), Cold Pumas manage to create warm, intense, persistent jams, and make them their own.

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