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Cold Cave - Cherish the Light Years

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Artist: Cold Cave

Album: Cherish the Light Years

Label: Matador

Review date: Apr. 4, 2011

Sometimes you form a band. If this is the early 2000s, when punk was the base ingredient for huge swaths of underground music, you might feel that an emotional, anthemic hardcore band that sounds a bit like Linkin Park is the way to go. Since Converge and Cave In are still culturally relevant, you might be right. You might find some success, and with it the envy, ire and admiration of strangers on the internet (a relative novelty at this point). But sometimes you grow up a little and your tastes change. Man cannot live on chugga chugga alone.

Sometimes, after years of screaming, you find yourself playing those New Order records a lot more than you would have thought. Having spent the decade steeping yourself in music and culture, you might at some point shift your priorities. Sometimes people realize they have a pop side. Sometimes people buy Microkorgs.

Sometimes you’re right in sync with all your friends and a lot of strangers, too. Sometimes everybody wants to hear the same thing. Maybe not in the Michael Jackson sense, but enough that both RadioShack and Prurient want a piece of the pie. Sometimes people who don’t even like your band find themselves humming your song even though they only heard a sound clip once online, as far as they can remember.

Sometimes you’re smart about your packaging, splicing emotional dude hair with black metal dread and drag queen tragique. Sometimes cultural pastiches like this work when charging out of the underground, giving your band a convincing aura of mystery, spookiness and allure. When this happens, people usually go on tour for a year and hire a manager and start an official twitter feed and are given free Levis and generally feel like big shots. Sometimes they can keep their spark through it all.

But sometimes, you wake up and you’ve just finished your second record, and it sounds wincingly like when metalcore bands threw in trance keys for fun. At some point, someone told you your Robert Smith impersonation was convincing. Someone suggested you ditch the female vocals, probably because the women keep leaving your band (I wonder why). Someone agreed the sloppy sax on that one track sounded good. No one mentioned that your lyrics read like a Twilight plot synopsis. No one mentioned that intense compression drains all the life and dynamic out of your art. Most importantly, no one played a single memorable melody on your entire album. Sometimes you forget that kind of detail.

Sometimes bands form, and they are good. Every once and a while, they can stretch it out for a couple years, and very occasionally more. Usually, though, a band is lucky to have a single inspired moment. If so, they sometimes milk it for a while, playing at half-filled pro venues to college kids who mosh for no reason. Sometimes there’s a very good reason the internet is always out for new blood. Sometimes, too often, you start a band and it’s good, but by the time anyone really cares, you’ve run out of interesting ideas and your live show is boring because you’re burnt out and your record sounds like it was sponsored by Guitar Center.

By Daniel Martin-McCormick

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