Cherish the Light Years album review

Joe Incollingo ('13)/Eastside staff

Sometimes it feels like the 80’s, with all of their tight clothes, Kevin Bacon, and synthpop, never left. While Spandex and Footloose deserve as much attention as anything, one must appreciate that, while society was quick to gracefully evict the likes of hair metal from its Walkmen, the aching-hearted button-pressing antics from the likes of Depeche Mode and The Cure have thrived in modern acts like, among others, Cold Cave.

After their 2009 album Love Comes Close opened the door to the concept of all-out eighties revival, their latest Cherish the Light Years plows ahead without a hint of hesitation. Right from the beginning, the album deals a smack to the head with the synth-laden, angry guitar-driven single “The Great Pan Is Dead”. The song raises eyebrows just from the sheer power it packs, and Wesley Eisold’s booming vocals are the clenched fist in the air pushing it forward.

Eisold, who once upon a time fronted several hardcore acts like Give Up the Ghost, has a voice that perfectly embodies New Wave angst. Like the perfect descendant of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, Eisold provides vocals that hang low and sullen over pulsing rhythms, and yet like the perfect disciple of Robert Smith or Morrissey, he remains painfully invested and emotionallytethered to each word of his hurt-laced lyrics.

From “Pan”, the album presses forward. The thing is, it never really stops with each track pressing into the next. Sure, each song, standing alone, has its own thing going for it: “Catacombs” has its “Just Like Heaven”-esque bouncy drums and flanging guitar, and “Icons of Summer” combines a House-y foundation with Dave Gahan monotone. Even Eisold’s lyrics, which invoke every form of Romantic sentiment from youthful heartbreak (I was just someone you would love to love/But never love) to gloomy world-weariness (I know/Of the hell/That begs and burns below), add another dimension to each infinitely layered piece of the album.

Of course, for every comparison to the 80’s synthpop/New Wave scene drawn from Light Years, it becomes increasingly challenging to differentiate the two. Other than a fresh face, Cold Cave brings very little new material to the table in terms of eighties emulation; it merely packs in and piles high everything that made its predecessors successful. Plus, the orchestration can be overwhelming at times, and certain elements easily disappear in the mayhem.

That is not to say, however, that one should be discouraged from checking out Cherish the Light Years. While listeners will doubtlessly draw parallels, it’s obvious that

since it worked back then, it works now, with commendable results. Separate from all comparison, Cold Cave’s latest shines.