Album Reviews

Cold Cave – Cherish The Light Years

(Matador) UK release date: 4 April 2011

Post-punk nostalgia has been at an all-time high lately, which is strange when you consider how bands like Interpol and Franz Ferdinand were so lovingly attached to their angular aesthetics they were christened as ‘revivalists’ at the beginning of the decade. But this burgeoning post-all-that generation operates differently; they’re almost all American and riding the dark, cold waves of the Eurocentric side of the late ’70s, rather than just engaging in blatant Anglophilia. Whether it’s a result of record store mining or a reaction to the entry-level guitar-rock of their forbearers, the textural, synth-driven miasma of some of post-punk’s underdogs have been paid an unlikely tribute – and the quality of Cold Cave’s offering Cherish The Light Years is certainly worthy of its influences.

Cold Cave have kicked around an ’80s disposition for the length of their career, sulking deep into deathrock stereotypes, decked in fringed haircuts and vintage Bauhaus shirts, but here they’ve emerged on the other side looking like legitimate stars. Cherish The Light Years explodes into life like a full transformation, the incandescent The Great Pan Is Dead is among the most forceful album openers ever, blooming into life with a near-embarrassing amount of skyward dramatics. Everything, the obfuscated synths, the head-rush guitars, Wesley Eisold’s sensationalized voice, is all pushed to the absolute forefront of the mix, giving the sound a massive, torrential effect. Somehow, none of that hugeness subtracts from the all-together personal nature of the music, it’s just romance at the core.

With such a statement rocketing out of the album with the first track, it’s almost expected for the rest of the record to be a little top-heavy, crushed under the weight of its ceiling. But Cold Cave are not shooting for nuance; the tracks here all beg to be the highlights, striving for anthemic bliss without any modesty. The second song Pacing Around The Church is almost as propulsive as the first, with Eisold’s pallid howl taking an even greater sense of urgency. Confetti achieves its power through more danceable means: a pounding 4/4 groove and a squelching, cadaverous synthesizer – the most transparent tribute the band makes to charred New Wave. These are all impressions, starry-eyed nostalgia for an idealized scene that never existed, but through that unchecked love Cold Cave sound like a culmination of sorts – the combined potency of all the elements of greatness achieved periodically by mythical bands like Blitz and Red Temple Saints.

It isn’t all wraithlike either; the sun pokes through on a number of more floral tracks. None greater than Catacombs, which is probably the best ballad The Cure never wrote. And there are also moments of flat-out macabre exploitation; the fatalistic chugging of Burning Sage has Eisold at his most goofily self-serious. In fact the primary problem most people will find with Cherish The Light Years is how wildly egotistical it is. Here we have a songwriter whose utter infatuation with a dead generation of artists has kept him attuned to that specific era. Eisold has continually refused to branch out, what’s more, his atramentous bellow demands your attention – pretty presumptuous for an impersonator. But right now it’s working for him, beyond the fake-English accents and the liquid-sheen of the production Cherish The Light Years is absolutely incendiary, and blows down all those qualms of creativity with blatant, breathtaking onslaught.

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