Coming out of New York City, Wesley Eisold is the centre-piece of this synth-rock band; singer, writer and programmer – he does almost everything on this, his second album as Cold Cave, save some guest vocals. His own vocals are in the mould of ’80s monochromatic male pop voices, from Bryan Ferry to Dave Gahn to Echo’s Ian McCulloch and perhaps a little Bowie – all of which can be applied to White Lies’ Harry McVeigh too, and they are not dissimilar. In Eishold’s case, the music itself is harvested from the golden Casio age when pop stars were unashamedly getting the most squelchy electronic sounds out of their keyboards and every kid could programme a drumbeat and make a sound like any given chart-bothering song.
So you may be asking, is this some clever amalgamation of what every hipster band is trying to do right now? It is exactly that but without the word clever. Cold Cave’s take on this comes across as one-dimensional. Songs like ‘Confetti’ are merely Depeche Mode-lite with no hooks or twists to fire off some sparks. ‘Catacombs’ is so derivative of That ’80s Drum Beat™ (‘Modern Love’, ‘Footloose’, etc.) that it’s hard to believe it’s anything more than a pastiche. The inevitable Blade Runner and Terminator themes get some heavy references too. There’s certainly good indie-club dancing to be done to a song such as ‘Pacing Around The Church’ but your life won’t be any better for hearing it, as other bands are appropriating these sounds in much more interesting ways.
Yet the biggest complaint must surely be this: Eisold has borrowed all the great upful sounds of the first synthpop years and without pulling them apart and re-imagining them has managed to make an album that’s simply boring. To see and hear bands like Cut Copy and Delphic nail it (and both these bands had nailed it a good, oh, two or three years ago) just serves to point out how revisionist and unexciting Cold Cave are as a musical entity.