Among the frostiest and darkest groups re-imagining and subverting electronic pop, Philadelphia's Cold Cave are perfectly named, and their debut album even more so. Love Comes Close could mean love falls tantalizingly short, or that it's too close for comfort; in Cold Cave's world, it does both. Wes Eisold, Caralee McElroy (formerly of Xiu Xiu, whose fascination with heart-on-sleeve lyrics and rudimentary electronics is an unspoken influence on, or at least a kindred spirit to this group) and Prurient's Dominick Fenrow hone in on the bleakest and most romantic aspects of synth pop and industrial music, crafting something equally robotic and emotive.
Wesley Eisold used to sing in Philly-based hardcore band Give Up the Ghost but switches musical gears for Cold Cave's debut, delivering an addictive blast of dark, synth-pop noise. Packed with lo-fi-meets-nu-rave parsings of UK post-punk discontent, the album's distorted melodies are immediately catchy yet convey brooding emotional depth. [rssbreak] Fans of Cut Copy and Crystal Castles will appreciate Life Magazine and Heaven Was Full, two tracks that reference elements of these often-imitated acts in fresh ways.
If vampires are as cool as I'm told they are right now, Cold Cave would've cleaned up at the Teen Choice Awards this year. Consider: Dark, synth-splashed pop songs with enough of an industrial bent to validate any flashbacks you might be having of watching Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie stalk the club for fresh meat in The Hunger. And though pack leader Wesley Eisold (also known for his work in the hardcore outfit Give Up the Ghost) does have the spooky Peter Murphy vocal thing down pat, Cold Cave sound more realized than the one-off pleasure project they look like on paper.
No one could have predicted this: Wesley Eisold, owner of a publishing house called Heartworm Press, and a guy who has writing credits on more than a few Fall Out Boy songs (Pete Wentz loves to steal dude’s poetry), has gone and restored all the dark splendor of synthy post-punk that was washed away by turgid efforts by, among others, the Editors and She Wants Revenge. And he’s done it with one album, Love Comes Close, the best majestic and dark post-punk album since who knows when. It only takes five minutes of Love Comes Close to realize Cold Cave’s reference points here: Joy Division and the Depeche Mode songbook.
The term ‘electronic pioneers’ tends to get bandied around more than ‘rock pioneers’, and not without reason. If true pioneers are those who step into the unknown, then a lot of 'important' rock artists pretty much seemed to know what they were doing as they were doing it. The joy of many early electronic acts is that really were completely in the dark.
In a lot of ways, it’s surprising it took shitgaze this long to embrace the synth. On the one hand, synths never sat too well with the punk or early ‘90s lo-fi scenes—shitgaze’s two biggest influences—but on the other hand there is the constant sense that shitgaze acts care more about their textures than a lot of their clean-sounding peers, and few things help with texture better than synthesizers. Nonetheless, poor quality synths have been taking the indie scene by storm lately.
Cold Cave is a synthpop/darkwave band led by Wesley Eisold, formerly the singer and lyricist of seminal Boston hardcore band American Nightmare (later known as Give Up the Ghost) and mathcore/noise rock collective Some Girls. Although his pedigree is firmly punk, Eisold has expressed in interviews his love for The Smiths, The Cure, and other electronic post-punk acts. But it’s hardly surprising that Cold Cave sound nothing like his prior work: Eisold has never played an instrument on record prior to Cold Cave, and he’s even professed disinterest for the musical styles of the bands with whom he’s previously performed.