Their debut album of 2009 Love Comes Close was a unique display of synth-oriented mood disorder, venturing out from the bedroom to the dancefloor, full of tales of veiled seduction and bleak vicissitudes. Songwriter and vocalist Wes Eisold’s spin on the world appeared to share a voice (in both dour baritone and content) with Stephin Merritt but you’d be lead to believe that Merritt would occasionally see the lighter side. Eisold is a misery malcontent’s delight, and Cold Cave was the perfect vehicle. If Love Comes Close was testing of the waters, its successor Cherish The Light Years is Eisold’s dark dream made manifold.
Pulling every one of his influences together, from his hardcore days to the present, fashioning together something that’s altogether different from what has come before. The sensory, hardcore assault on “The Great Pan is Dead” is Eisold’s own ”Born To Run”. It’s a barrage of guitars, drum machines, Eisold breathlessly screaming “I will come running/gunning through the years/hunting heart/crushing fear”. It’s not quite Springsteen, but it’s not the closeted electro-whispers of a sheltered teen either. “Pacing Around The Church” assumes a Simple Mind-ed hi-energy synth rock stance, and it’s from this point that Cherish The Light Years moves to distance itself from Love Comes Close.
Cold Cave’s debut sounded less like an album, and more a collection of songs that were recorded over a long period of months. It’s charm lay in its lo-fi simplicity. It was unabashed goth-tinged synth-pop that didn’t sonically trample over you, which whether this was a part of Eisold’s grand scheme or producer Chris Coady’s, but Cherish The Light Years is fully-fleshed out, studio slick and dressed to impress. Every song goes in guns blazing, hooks ready to reel you in, whether it’s the Cut Copy mimicking “Confetti” or “Alchemy And You” with the fanfare of trumpets which hasn’t been seen on a synth-pop record this side of Teardrop Explodes in a long time.
It’s been remarked that Cherish… is Eisold’s love letter to his new digs, New York, but the New York presented here is more akin to the one found in the underground outsider films of the 80’s, like Times Square or Smithereens, that dish out romance and rebellion against a neon new-wave backdrop. This is something Eisold could script out with “Underworld USA” — “Oh take me to the future I’m ready/my affection is so unsteady”, but the romance as apocalypse edge here isn’t a pervading one. The disillusions of Love Comes Close become united in determination to move forward, which is clearly where Eisold has placed Cold Cave. Cherish The Light Years could be seen as a new beginning, or the beginning he always intended.