Friday, October 28, 2016

Review: Cotton Mather - Death Of The Cool

So, what exactly am I supposed to impart here? Maybe you'd like to know how long it has been since we've had a new album from Cotton Mather? The answer to that question is it has been 15 years since their last new release The Big Picture, but really there isn't much to glean from that information. Speaking for myself, those 15 years have been filled with glorious sounds. Whoever I was and whatever I was listening to in 2001 I know for a certainty my musical world is simply richer and more satisfying today. That's all good, right?

Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. An album like Death of the Cool hints at a potential world very different than the one I actually enjoyed. Imagine a world where Cotton Mather wasn't, to all intents and purposes, silent for a decade and a half. Such a place might not be the best of all possible worlds, but there is no doubt it would be a better one.

Or to put it more succinctly, I am a greedy bastard and I would love to have more Cotton Mather. A lot more.

"The Book of Too late Change" launches the disc into our ears with the propulsive force of a high velocity artillery shell. It is high energy, especially the fantastic drumming, and wild without being out of control. It is a meticulously planned riot, if that is even possible. "Close to the Sun" is a groovy, vibey rock song that manages to be classy and sleazy all at once.

What comes as a bit of a surprise, to me at least, is how often Death of the Cool is reminiscent of the band's first album Cotton is King. "Candy Lilac," "Child Bride," and "The End of DeWitt Finley" all feature a softer pop feel in a Difford & Tillbrook vein, sweetly tuneful with lyrics that can twist the sweetness ever so slightly in unexpected directions.

Indeed, the breadth of the album as a whole is amazing. It is only 11 tracks long, but it feels bigger and more expansive because so many different sounds are utilized. "The Middle of Nowhere" gives us a sparse soundscape filled with subtle landmarks, "Queen of Swords" gives us a quiet pop-baroque gem both simple and intricate, and "Waters Raging" yells at us for awhile. All of them are really good at what they do.

At the end of the day this greedy bastard has a simple plea: more, please.

Grade: A


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