From the margins of south-east of England. The first great album of 2018.
It's rare these days to discover an album that when listened to, doesn't divulge who the band have been listening to. And that dear readers is often the sign that you're onto something good. The Cold Spells' eponymous debut is not without predessessors – there are similarities with both Robert Wyatt and Shirley Collins both in the simple song structures and the unadorned straightly delivered vocals. But importantly The Cold Spells are not aping or mimicing. And here lies just one of the album's strengths.
So what does it sound like? Well there's the afore-mentioned simple folk-song tunes, gentle electronic backing with snatches of static, white noise, occasional backwards vocals drifting in and out. The organic meeting the technological. An intoxicating sound alone but strong poetical lyrics and stories will pull you in further.
It's an album that speaks of and to the lost, lonely and marginalised. To people on the forgotten edges of society, the dispossed, those away from metropolitan glamour. Empathatic stories that touch on delusional paranoia, quiet haunted lives and familial traits that echo through the ages. Mixed in with eulogies, a little folklore, and even a song about drowning. Modern, yet mysterious. The aural equivalent of a hillside containing a chalked white horse and a mulititude of mobile phone masts.
There are plenty of arch, all-too-knowing bands (and labels) that release referential, hauntological music that's often little more than a stylistic pastiche. The Cold Spells has lyrical depth however, and has a timeless quality in it's melodies. Sure you could place it under banner of folktronica given the gentle ambient instrumentation but it's an album that won't date. It's not trying desperately to sound like it's 2018, 1972, or even 1872. It sounds both modern and peculiarly ancient. I guarantee it will sound similarly undated and timeless in years to come.
Apparently it took 4 years to make the album so they may not be bringing out another anytime soon or maybe even ever, which would be a shame. Hopefully The Cold Spells' LP will get the recognition it deserves in the here and now rather than drift off into obscurity. If it doesn't then I'm in no doubt that in 20 years time it will be hailed as something of a lost classic.
The Cold Spells are -
Tim Ward (songs/guitar/vocals)
Michael Farmer (keyboards/vocals)
Catherine Plewa (bass guitar)
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