Cold Cave, a band that started with a few thrift store Casios and a hardcore lead-singer, has come a long way into the realm of odd, droning electro-pop. Wesley Eisold is better known as the front-man of bands like Some Girls and American Nightmare, adding a certain electrified goth angle to the otherwise dance-floor ready tunes. It is kind of like Hercules and Love Affair, in that it supplants a very specific voice into a very different aesthetic without losing said voice and its nuances. Almost every track comes fully distorted and tough to follow; Eisold is blurred beyond understanding behind techno sheets. Head-bobbing ensues; each track generates a hook or two to keep interest dancing despite lyrical confusion.
The first word is "fireworks" or something that sounds like it (I submit it doesn't really matter all that much). The drone of "Cebe And Me" is kind of like a warm-up lap, the filtered spoken word lyrics needing a few listens, which can be tedious over the repetitive riff below. When title track "Love Comes Close" drops, it is such a huge moment of relief (I submit; intentionally). This is where Cold Cave starts to take the leaf out of Hercules book, warping electro-parts to fit repetitive and sticky hooks, all while maintaining a distinct voice. By the end, "I.C.D.K." is more about the beat than anything else.
The weirdest part about Cold Cave is that it feels almost like it is entirely hooks and no filler... the songs have the structure of techno smashups with few discernibly separated elements. "Life Magazine" is a good example of this, with it's echoed cries and repeating riffs, it circles around itself in a dance floor daze. The vocals are continuously hidden behind odd, mirrored effects. The songs oscillate between the hook-heavy and the 80's-fringe-new-wave with a goth tint, like on "Heaven Was Full," which sounds like it came fresh off a GTA: Vice City
promo spot. "The Trees Grew Emotions And Died" sounds like you're on your way to killing giant robots in Megaman X
But it is hard to make synthy music these days that doesn't reference some 16 bit gaming systems (intentionally anyway). And there are moments of clarity (actual music reference). "Hello Rats" manages to be the only track where the set-back vocals actually peek through the mix in a significant way. It kind of reminded me of the Blink 182 phenomenon filtered through a Flock Of Seagulls lens. I could also see most of these songs be aerobics routine soundtracks on Jane Fonda's spooky murder mystery workout.
Not that any of this is a bad thing; I like music that surprises and baffles, it provides replay value. The entire record is interesting and mind melting, warping the expectations of the listener with each off-the-wall take on itself. Anyone who says they aren't a little unsettled by the twists on this album is lying to you, but anyone who says they don't like it is lying to themselves. -joe puglisi