Live Music + Gig Reviews

Cola @ Prince Albert, Brighton

23 August 2022

Former Ought members Tim Darcy and Ben Stidworthy bring the spatial dissonance and overwrought motorik momentum of new album Deep In View to the south coast

Cola (Photo: Colin Medley)

Cola (Photo: Colin Medley)

His expression fixed in an unyielding gaze, sweat dripping down his brow like freshly mixed paint sliding down a freshly shaken can rim, it’s nearly impossible to gauge whether Cola’s cynical and eternally questioning frontman Tim Darcy is remotely happy to be playing the UK in support of his group’s debut record Deep In View or whether he’s here just to fulfil existing contractual obligations. He says the group have been looking forward to hitting these shores but it’s hard to tell if he’s serious.

Anyone who has had a chance to listen to the record will have already admired its spatial dissonance, overwrought momentum bordering on motorik and its inquisitively pessimistic examinations of the world we find ourselves in. Heaping contempt on people and their vulgar over reliance on intrusive technologies, the record finds Darcy wondering aloud about modernity and whether we have lost our senses of decency and virtue.

One virtue Darcy adheres to is being selective with his energy between songs. There are no Proustian rambles for the lyricist tonight. His inclination being instead to perform the album as faithfully as possible and to showcase a couple of new tracks towards the evening’s conclusion (mainly because by the band’s own admission, they don’t have the most gargantuan catalogue of which they can dip into at this stage). For the fans who came hoping they might hear the odd track from the Ought back catalogue, the much-feted post punk group in which the guitarist also shared time with bassist Ben Stidworthy, it’s abundantly clear those days are behind the pair and Cola is the primary focus.

Stidworthy’s bass seems to be a slippery instrument, constantly attempting to slide away from his slight frame as he awkwardly grapples to wrest back control of it. No such drama befalls drummer Evan Cartwright, whose light handiwork make it appear as if he is a conductor feverishly commanding a full orchestra, a spell casting necromancer or skilled embroider, weaving thick chunks of sound through the air, rather than a mere primitivist stick smith.

Opening with Blank Curtain, the track that announced their arrival less than a year ago, the group react in furtive frustration to the deluge of anguish contaminating their naïve minds. Every subtlety and nuance of the track pulses with manic vigour. Even on tracks like So Excited and Water Table, the trio struggle to diffuse their skewed perspective and find joy in their surroundings. Articulate and attentive, the defiant sensitivities displayed colour the venue with a sense of ritualised benevolence and self-reflexive indignation in equal measure.

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Cola @ Prince Albert, Brighton