Vampire dance jams
When the play button is hot on the first song off Cold Cave’s newest EP – You & Me & Infinity, the listener is blasted with a crushed, crunchy electronic bass note. You know the kind, the kind that would not feel unwelcome in a meme compilation or a trap song to emphasize moments of bombast. The thing is, though, that this clipped wave feels treated like it’s a little more nuanced. The hypothesis is confirmed once one listens to those sonic shards align to a rhythm, and then start to speed up. The bass note is rising in pitch, and it launches right into an ’80s dark synth dream.
Cold Cave is one of many projects of Wesley Eisold, who is the singer of hardcore band American Nightmare/Give Up The Ghost (the same band, had to change their name for a brief period) and experimental punk band Some Girls. Last year, Eisold released a new album with American Nightmare, their first in 15 years. Cold Cave is his darkwave project.
There’s a small, but notable moment going on right now with darkwave music. Vintage bands like New Order, The Cure and Joy Division are seeing their sounds recreated by moderns bands like Black Marble and Cold Cave, with new technology that can inject a lot more flair into the beeps and boops. Just listen to the background noise in the transitions between sections on the first song, “You & Me & Infinity.” 8-bit flourishes create instant moments of nostalgia but are not used as cheap gimmicks, instead, are given a villainous, grittier take that brings to mind the ’80s relooks in visual media that have taken place.
There are only four songs on the EP, leading one to hope that each song will be a unique and equally as dynamic track as the opener. The second song, “Nothing is True but You” starts strong with a delightfully ragged synth lead, but gives more of a Berlin dance club scene than its predecessor. The third track, “Glory” is more in the latter category than the former in terms of sound, being a perfectly pleasant production that doesn’t ruffle any feathers of someone familiar with synth cheese. That being said, “Glory” has an undeniable spirit in its lyrical content, with the two leads pining with hope beyond hope for a better life than the one they’re currently living. The duo sing about a forlorn wish to be somebody, but again falling back bitterly into old habits is where the true heart of ’80s goth-pop lies. The dreamy music contrasting with the tortured lyrics is nailed in this instance.
The final song, “My Heart is Immortal” again, plays it cool. It passes by without much fanfare, which is admittedly what the majority of the EP does. One could wish that they took some more risks due to the miles of progress in the field of electronic dance music they hinted at in the first song. But, of course, who really is complaining if we get more vampiric dance jams to add to the catalog? Cold Cave’s got some tricks up their sleeves.