Self produced in their own Los Angeles studio by guitarist Chris King, Motionless is Cold Showers’ third LP, following the primitive, raw post-punk of 2012 mini album debut Love & Regret and 2015’s follow-up, the more urgent Matter Of Choice. Whilst the underlying post-punk core remained intact for the latter, Motionless harks back to the early years more closely, this time with a shiny coat of polish daubed all over to create an album that should appeal to fans of both.
As with most bands that first appear on your radar, a comparative checkpoint for newcomers versus familiar artists will be vocals, and with Jonathan Weil’s deadpan style sounding like a mix of Robert Smith and Terry Hall, you have an idea of what to expect vocally. With a dark, gloomy goth-ish presence marrying with atmospheric keys and abrasive-meets-shoegaze guitars, you’ll then be able to form a pretty accurate picture of what Cold Showers offer musically too.
Three singles have been released from Motionless so far: Shine, Faith and Dismiss. Firstly, Shine will blow your socks off. A sparkling pop-nugget awaits those that check it out, a beacon of magnificence in the general sea of doom offered up by the rest of the album. As the title implies, the song shines as light female backing vocals contrast Weil’s moody tones as they twist around a saxophone tinged beauty that sounds like the best thing The Psychedelic Furs never released.
Faith employs a colder, more primitive front that descends into a horror-show like chaotic bombardment whilst Dismiss picks up the urgency found all over Matter Of Choice amid a bouncy bassline, frantic percussion and a scrawling wall of guitars that could depict a hundred fingernails being scraped down an old-school blackboard.
Elsewhere, further highlights are aplenty. Deploying The Cure toned synths (think Lullaby) alongside an icy, spiky guitar onslaught, Tomorrow Will Come trudges along at Black Rebel Motorcycle Club pace, Weil meanwhile moodily moaning “don’t tell me that you’re ashamed” in typically dismissive fashion. More darkness swamps the impressive Measured Man as rubbery bass evokes more The Cure memories, a menacingly disturbed piano line then projecting an air of mental anguish over the top of lyrics that tell of suffering in silence. Providing an odd-ball moment, the title track then manages to sound like the evil twin of The Colourfield’s Thinking Of You from 1985, not least because of the Hall vocal similarities.
The funereal, string-backed Every Day On My Own closes the album in more trademark gloomy miserabilism, but only after an isolated moment of magic appears in the shape of Black Sidewalk. For the only time on the album, drummer Emily Rose Epstein takes the vocal lead after a Brian Jonestown Massacre like mellotron drone kicks off another 1985 reference in a Sandy Rogers cover before a standout, melodically superior chorus kicks in amongst jangly guitars.
Cold Showers won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, just like their watery reference in fact, but on this evidence they can hold their own with any similar genre-hopping outfits. Where they perhaps differ, though, is that they’re not afraid of mixing things up with the poppier elements offered by both Shine and Black Sidewalk. Motionless, as a result, is a winner.