Release Date: Apr 5, 2011
Record label: Matador
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Club/Dance
In Wesley Eisold's universe, anything worth saying is worth saying loud. The New York musician's second proper record as Cold Cave is as bright and emphatic as a field of neon exclamation points, full of frantically palpitating drum machines and 900-mile-an-hour synths. His strategy is simple: Spike the bitter fizz of early electro-industrial bands like Nitzer Ebb with a double dose of the Cure and wait for the rush to kick in.
If you didn’t know that Wesley Eisold wrote sad-eyed poetry and had a past in industrial and hardcore (to say nothing of his present in icy electronics), you will after this marauding album. Swirling Euro-melodies reminiscent of Depeche Mode, thudding and shuddering synths, and his coolly quavering baritone mark “Burning Sage” and “Confetti” like a pox. But the finest element of this sophomore effort is Eisold’s dedication to his adopted N.Y.C.
It may be hard to believe that Wes Eisold once shredded his vocal chords as front man of celebrated hardcore band Give Up the Ghost, but understanding his roots in the early- to mid-00s scene is the single most important aspect for coming to terms with the music that he creates as Cold Cave. At the time, a wide spectrum of bands often rubbed elbows, both on mix tapes and live shows; it wasn’t unusual to have chest-patting emo rock bands like Onelinedrawing sharing bills with the roaring metal-influenced screamo of Shai Hulud, and, after a five-band show, there was the almost inevitable dance party. While a haze of perspiration was still in the air from the mosh pit and finger-pointing sing-alongs, tight-jeaned scenesters would dance awkwardly to a playlist heavily indebted to new wave standards like New Order and The Cure.
To be an American fan of UK new wave in the 1980s was to acknowledge that your homegrown culture wasn't giving you what you needed. New Order, the Cure, Depeche Mode, and Siouxsie and the Banshees made broadly appealing pop music but also made sense to outcast kids in the U.S. because they clearly came from somewhere else. Drop any of them into your average American town and they would be mocked; the straight world would make fun of their haircuts and clothing and make-up.
Cold Cave's debut album, Love Comes Close, was so strong and original, so filled with heart-stopping songs built around hissing electronics and dancefloor-ready beats, that it must have been hard for Wes Eisold and Caralee McElroy to think about bettering it. Especially after McElroy left the group. Despite these changes and the inherent challenges of the follow-up, Cherish the Light Years succeeds almost completely.
Don’t be surprised if you can’t recognize Cold Cave when the group’s new album Cherish the Light Years starts in media res, pounding you over the head from the get-go with a startling blast of churning riffs and heavy, relentless rhythms on “The Great Pan Is Dead”. While frontman Wesley Eisold made a name for his band a few years ago on a handful of bounding, almost giddy synth-pop singles, he’s put quite a bit more muscle on Cold Cave’s techno formula this time around. If you’re looking for the new New Order keyboards that got Cold Cave noticed to begin with, you’ll find them as background music for the opener’s mix of Ministry-like industrial noise and bruising hardcore punk.
The band’s second album is an intoxicatingblend of belting tunes and utter insanity[b]Wesley Eisold[/b] probably doesn’t consider [b]‘Cherish The Light Years’[/b] an especially noisy record. The previous grounding of [b]Cold Cave’s[/b] lynchpin was in hardcore, while his most frequent collaborator, [b]Dominick Fernow[/b], has released countless ejaculations of utterly horrible power electronics. This is assuredly not what [b]Eisold[/b] and guests (an almost comedically varied bunch including [b]Fernow[/b], [b]Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner[/b] and members of metalcore brutes [a]Hatebreed[/a] and neo-riot grrrls [b]Mika Miko[/b]) offer on these nine songs.
"Take me to the future. I'm ready," sings Wesley Eisold. That may be true, but someone appears to have stuck a spanner in his time machine – he's definitely heading backwards. The destination is 1982 or thereabouts, given the Human League and the Cure appear to be the main influences on Cherish the Light Years, though the horns of Dexys and Peter Hook's bass tone are discernible, too.
Cherish The Light Years’ lead-off slugger “The Great Pan Is Dead” will be hard to eclipse — not only by the rest of the album, but by just about any other song this year. Singer Wesley Eisold leans on his former hardcore influences harder than ever, evinced in the first seconds by the tremolo-picked guitar assault. The edge in Eisold’s croon screams, “Yeah/I will come running/gunning through the years/hunting heart/crushing fears” on the fist-to-air chorus, eliciting some vision of epic love that fights through the fire of time, as if an apocalyptic blockbuster movie was rolled into a singular rock anthem.
So what happened? What happened is the only thing I can think throughout the first few listens of Cold Cave’s second album, with every subsequent spin less an opportunity to further digest than an effort to double-check if things really are as palpably awful as they seemed the last listen around. This sense of disbelief comes with the fact that debut Love Comes Close was a slightly patchy, but mostly striking, rush of synth-pop brilliance that, in its best moments, created a dark, glistening, threatening, beautiful, hopeless, defiant atmosphere in which you would gladly get lost amongst the perpetual gloom, sallow lights and garish neon trim. In his review of Love Comes Close, this website’s Andrzej Lukowski decided that Cold Cave (essentially the work of Wesley Eisold with a rotating group of contributors) had easily avoided the potential pitfall of becoming a "shitgaze sideshow".
Two years ago, Wesley Eisold seemed to have it made. Having left a world of metalcore bands and Fall Out Boy lawsuits behind him, he and a rotating cast of appealingly underground characters -- most notably Prurient and Xiu Xiu's Caralee McElroy -- called themselves Cold Cave, went back to the old synth pop, and seemingly breathed new life into its dying revival. 2009's Love Comes Close wasn't the genre's first time around the block, nor was it even its most triumphant moment, but it made for a mainstream breakthrough.
COLD CAVE “Cherish the Light Years” (Matador). On “Underworld USA,” from the second Cold Cave album, “Cherish the Light Years,” synths churn along at an industrial clip; drums arrive in precise digital explosions; a soft female voice whispers in the background; and then a dry guitar ….
Reboots Scott Walker and the androgynous end of 90s Britpop into distinctive darkwave. Adam Kennedy 2011 Morphing underground noise scene origins into something more befitting 1980s Sheffield, Cold Cave's 2009 debut Love Comes Close betrayed its ultimate impact from title down. Despite the emotion poured in, a crucial longevity was missing. It didn't quite sate desires sufficiently for fans to consider a monogamous relationship with the New York-based outfit.
Cold Cave is the NYC-based brainchild of Wesley Eisold, who fancies himself the poster child of 21st century nihilism. Light Years is supposed to be a modern re-envisioning of New Wave, but there's a blurring of the lines here between building upon an existing genre and merely being derivative. Singer Eisold successfully melds Peter Murphy's bass with Robert Smith's whine on "The Great Pan Is Dead," while Daryl Palumbo's guitar "Confetti" straight-up apes Bernard Sumner's New Order axe work.