Cold Showers certainly lived up to their name late last year with the release of their debut full-length LP on Dais Records, Love and Regret. Available in all four still-relevant formats, this direct follow-up to the Highlands and Decay EP’s has undoubtedly extinguished a great many bestial fires within youthful dark pop explorers and veteran post-punk enthusiasts alike in the eight or so months that it has been available. Indeed, Cold Showers had already been making their rounds prior to this eventual full-length, finding a great deal of success and buzz around, specifically, the Highlands EP on Mexican Summer only one short year after their formation. Strangely, Art Fag Recordings‘ release of the Decay 7″ seemed to come and go without so much as a whimper from the underground press, perhaps due to its release date proximity to Love and Regret, having been made available only two short months prior. Regardless, Love and Regret again finds Cold Showers firing up interest through a collection of downers and with perhaps even a slight hint of humor hidden here and there, whether intended or not. After all, obviously existing outside of their more obvious or immediate intentions, it feels difficult to ignore the correlation between the withered, wilted flowers that dominate the pristine white of the album cover and the anti-phallic implications of the project title itself.
Despite the majority of these tracks being angsty pop ballads (who saw that coming?), Cold Showers do a good job of mixing up the approach of their compositions and thus offer up a different perspective within each song to what is a largely melancholic theme at heart. “Alight” opens the album on a strikingly anthemic note through all-around bold instrumentation and a strong guitar performance. “I don’t Mind” brightens the mood musically through a modestly upbeat tempo and youthful bassline, while lyrically it lowers the curtains to the twilight-illuminated mood that overwhelms the rest of Love and Regret. “Violent Cries” turns yet another corner as perhaps the catchiest song on the album through mumbled verses and an opiate-induced atmosphere. A subtle electronic backdrop enhances the already all-too-memorable chorus proclamation of “I will hunt you down” while drummer Renee Adams again furiously bombards the background with a machine-like precision, creating a warm, surprisingly thick-sounding composition through a pure non-fill, beat-driven performance.
“So I can Grow” and “In Terms of Pleasure” follow a similar path to “I don’t Mind” with more of an alt. rock-style upbeat shoegaze appeal with a bright lead. The whole album seems to follow this staggered style of track placement, giving the listener a consistent break from any given atmosphere that happens to be present at the time. “New Dawn” is the gem of Side B, with its slightly spacey atmosphere, misleading optimism and ridiculously addictive staccato-plucked lead. The closing track, “Seminary”, is similar to “Alight” in that its vocals are incredibly expressive, especially in the chorus, where it manifests in a melody that is at odds with the rest of the instrumentation, effectively creating some strong, genuine emotional tension. This track left me realizing just how well-produced the album is over-all, crystalline where appropriate, and suffocatingly anxious in the most brilliant spots.
In some respects, the music of Cold Showers is a fairly run-of-the-mill vintage journey into, as Dais Records puts it, a subtly industrial-modified version of the Factory Records catalog where you’d find such names as Joy Division, New Order and Cabaret Voltaire, but compared to many of the artists that they consider contemporary inspirations — Abe Vigoda, Night Control, Dunes, White Fence, Soft Pack, etc — they are an impressive shining light, especially in the current burgeoning post-punk scene along-side of other artists like Hot Guts whom have yet to be fully appreciated and celebrated for their music. That said, Love and Regret pushes all the right buttons with the exception of an occasional monotonous few moments, and is hopefully being left to herald a promising future for a project with a great deal of potential, a future that may already being taking shape through the release of the recent tape 11.25.12 Part Time Punks, a live broadcast recording which is already sold out, again through Dais Records.
A2) I don’t Mind
A3) Violent Crimes
A4) So I can Grow
B2) In Terms of Pleasure
B3) New Dawn