Dark advertising is a noted casualty of the recession. Today I saw another spot dipped in feelgood sauce and lamented the loss of bleak humor between channels. It happens when times get rough; clients stay away from irony and commercials get way more crass in the process. As a result, to paraphrase Don Draper from Mad Men, avoid eye contact or be blinded by the earnestness.
Cold Cave would be a joke in any other economy, but their junky blend of ghostly goth-ops and Germanic retronica ends up being more relevant than it should be. The title track on Loves Comes Close, particularly, doesn’t mess around: “look outside/ world is exploding/ stay inside.” If nothing else it looks spiffy as a Facebook update.
Constituted from the ruins of hardcore outfits like Some Girls, Cold Cave combines that instinct with a vague industrial pulse to make songs that alternately churn and moan. Drum machines drill, hammy synths lock and load. The more referential it gets, the more mixed the results. “Life Magazine” may pour static over every inch of itself, then lick it off, but the general effect is cafeteria-style Erasure. Caralee McElroy, who used to be in Xiu Xiu, fronts the screechy vocals like she’s better off dead. “Love Comes Close,” the social-network gift mentioned earlier, is at least better than all those indie-sour covers of “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” the classic it’s been compared to. Also I swear they’re making fun of Pulp on “Hello Rats.”
“The Trees Grew Emotions And Died” sounds like electronic marching band spam. “Double Lives In Single Beds” rallies full-throated around “broken branches, hanging chances” and a single, woefully struck piano key—I think this one’s a Pulp ambush also.
But you knew where I was going with the advertising riff: Cold Cave recently leased “Life Magazine” to a Radio Shack holiday spot featuring rills of brand-swatched wrapping paper. In that context “Life Magazine” acquires a darkness it doesn’t otherwise possess. Love Comes Close in its totality doesn’t really flaunt its artifice; it wallows in it. I put it on expecting an earthquake of at least minor shadows and got Rick-rolled. Don’t buy what it’s selling.
Xiu Xiu – Fabulous Muscles
Prurient – Pleasure Ground
Glass Candy – Love Love Love
Stream: “Life Magazine”