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Cold Cave
Cherish The Light Years Michael Dix , March 30th, 2011 03:18

One listen to ‘The Great Pan Is Dead’, the opening track to Cold Cave’s Cherish The Light Years confirms that Cold Cave are more than capable of proving themselves to the doubters, those who perhaps saw Wesley Eisold’s group as a quick-fix sugar rush for the sunglasses-at-night hipster crowd, and who branded him a “new young god of nihilism and despair”. Whereas Love Comes Close was a resolutely DIY affair, its follow-up is – in comparison – a big budget production (helmed by TV On The Radio/ Beach House/ Yeah Yeah Yeahs knob-twiddler Chris Coady) with an ensemble cast, and ‘Pan’ is a bona-fide ‘Born To Run’-sized anthem. Combining programmed jackhammer beats and live percussion, strafing synths, guitars and strings, it’s a 21st Century electro-punk reboot of Springsteen’s own Wall Of Sound update; a fist-pumping chant-along with a killer hook, and the most thrilling song of the year so far.

After such a strong start, any band could be forgiven for dropping the pace but ‘Pacing Around The Church’, with its synths, scratchy guitars and racing, muscular drums, doesn’t let up for a second; Eisold channeling the luminaries of the early 80s UK synth groups while his band – including Prurient’s Dominik Fernow, ex- Mika Miko frontwoman Jennifer Clavin (replacing the departed Caralee McElroy), new drummer Gaetano Licata and, somewhat bizarrely, Glassjaw’s Daryl Palumbo on guitar and bass – make the kind of noise the Killers might if they were pumped full of amphetamines. It’s not until the BPMs drop slightly for the glacial ‘Confetti’ that Cherish sounds like the same Cold Cave that made Love Comes Close; Italo-disco beats, circular synth riffs and New Order hooks, Eisold and Clavin harmonising “Oh I’m coming / Oh I’m coming / When you see me you should run and hide / You look so good on the outside.”

Elsewhere, the skipping ‘Close To Me’ beat and dreamy drones of ‘Catacombs’ provide the perfect backing for Eisold’s anguished Robert Smith yelp, while ‘Underworld USA’ balances out poetry that captures the awkwardness of teenage years, rather than the sun-kissed nostalgia oft found elsewhere (“Take me to your bedroom, I’m ready / My complexion is so unsteady / I remember tomorrow/ I forget yesterday/ I want to move into your body and stay”) with crashing pianos and a shuddering electro rhythm. ‘Icons Of Summer’ is a radio-ready two-in-one dance hit, twisting electronic arpeggios and faux-techno beats for the verses, clattering industrial synth-pop for the chorus; Eisold switching from dead-eyed deadpan (“Love will come easy with a face like that / You will never have to spend another shameful night alone”) to disco diva (“I don’t wanna die until a little light inside is found / Every time I lift my eyes the sun is going down”) like the consummate professional.

Eisold’s new-found confidence as a frontman is indicative of the huge leap forward Cold Cave have taken with Cherish The Light Years. The music may have its roots in the 80s, but their take is a noticeably more modern one than most of their contemporaries (kudos too for daring to revisit the largely overlooked Dexy’s Midnight Runners ska-soul sound on the trumpet-led – and Nick Zinner-assisted – ‘Alchemy And You’). They haven’t abandoned their hardcore roots, or their industrial and noise side, as evidenced by the clanking, hissing ‘Burning Sage’, but Cherish is a far more accessible record than their debut, and one that screams – dare we say it – crossover potential, something abundantly evident on the huge chorus of final track ‘Villains Of The Moon’. This is to Love Comes Close what Nevermind was to Bleach, or The Bends to Pablo Honey. This is the sound of a band exceeding expectations. Their time is now