Cold Pumas – Persistent Malaise (album) (Faux Discx / Gringo Records / Italian Beach Babes)
Only weeks after reviewing the single “Fog Cutter” (read review), it’s like Christmas has come early with the arrival of Cold Pumas album, ‘Persistent Malaise’.
Following a handful of 7” releases over the past few years, the Brighton post-punk trio are finally gearing up to released their debut an album and what a blinder it is.
As mentioned in the review of “Fog Cutter”, where many post-punk revivalists simply try to emulate the sound and riffs of the day, Cold Pumas have captured the spirit and exploration of post-punk, added some oddities and some unique melodic riffing to create an authentic sound. The only band Cold Pumas call to mind is Joy Division and coincidentally enough pre-Joy Division, Warsaw (check out the riffing in the closing track “Vanishing Point”).
‘Persistent Malaise’ consists of eight tracks and is an extremely fluid and organic sounding record. In fact, it sounds like the album has been recorded live in the band’s rehearsal space, which only adds to the charm and energy of the record. The band’s sound consists of only bass, lo-fi drums, a lone jangly and gritty guitar, and a heavily obscured vocal – it’s then all generously coated in reverb until saturated.
Cold Pumas uses atmosphere, mood and repetition over traditional song smarts and it’s through this constant repetition (listen to the instrumental track ‘Variety Lights’) that the songs find a way of taking up home in your brain without any real choruses or traditional hooks.
Like the album title suggests the songs are built to create tension, create unease, and even a claustrophobia similar to that of Joy Division. Despite the album name though, it’s never plodding, dreary, nor even melancholic – in fact, the large majority of the songs on ‘Perfect Malaise’ are up-tempo and even thrashy.
Opening track “A Versatile Gift” sets the pace of the record and is a deceptively catchy number thanks to the array of simple, repetitive and melodic guitar lines. As the song slows down incrementally over the final 90 seconds, “A Versatile Gift” has a hypnotic quality about it.
“Fog Cutter” follows next and like so much of ‘Perfect Malaise’, it sticks to one beat and one key for the entire duration of the song and builds and builds in tension. It’s here that the Joy Division comparison really rings true. Just listen to the shouts of “I know, I know, I know” at 1:20 and 2:15, which is not only reminiscent of but contains every bit of tension as “day in, day out, day in, day out” of Joy Division’s Digital.
“Sherry Island” retains the pace of “Fog Cutter” and like it has a very Ian Curtis reminiscent vocal melody. There is however a very melodic vocal section around 2:15, which teases with a different side to the band’s sound. “The Modernist Crown” is the most rocking song on the record and yet possesses the hypnotic quality mentioned earlier with its repetition and increased tension during each cycle. Be sure to check out the mind-bending middle section that occurs at 2:45 until 3:10.
“Puce Moment” is another great track that recalls Joy Division, however, it’s important to mention at this point that Cold Pumas do not sound derivative – far from. “Rayon Gris” is the album’s offer for some form of respite with its Beach Boys like coo-ing and dare we say slightly summer-tinged melodies. The song has a dream-pop quality and is somewhat at odds with the rest of the mood of the record. Maybe it’s just so you lower your guard and so Cold Pumas can hit you twice as hard with the manic power riffing of the album closer “Vanishing Point”. Another up-tempo number, the arrangement of the song is complex and at 6:44 in duration it takes the listener on a sonic journey.
After just a couple of listens, ‘Persistent Malaise’ has leaped straight into my Top 10 albums for the year. Do yourself a favour, grab some headphones, turn it up loud, get up, get dancing and lose yourself in this delicious and hypnotic noise.
‘Persistent Malaise’ will be released on 5 November. For a limited time you can download the single “Fog Cutter” free from the Faux Discx Soundcloud page.
Update 24 October, 2012: Cold Pumas have just released a video for the track “Sherry Island” – watch below:
Update 30 October, 2012: From now until 5 November, 2012 you can stream ‘Persistent Malaise’ in its entirety below: