Album Review: Cold Summer – Wake EP
The etymology of post-hardcore can be considered as one of the murkiest to discern by those unfamiliar; some bands maintain parts of the old hardcore style and drop in experimental sections, others take the post- element and run with it, yet further examples use post-hardcore as an excuse to slip in clean vocals into an otherwise abrasive style of music. So what would happen if one EP were to incorporate all three approaches? UK quartet Cold Summer attempt just that on their sophomore Wake EP, which features new vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Dan Feast. Four and a half tracks make up 14 minutes of diverse songwriting that cite Poison The Well, Thursday and La Dispute as reference points, although these less-seasoned post-hardcore ears hear some very different styles.
The post- influence is strong in the opener “Waiting”, a single waiting to happen and built around a Long Distance Calling-style bass and guitar riff. Both are provided in unison by Chris Harrison’s guitar and Chris Hepworth’s bass guitar, with Justin Eastwood grooving through interesting drum patterns in the back. Each work around each other to create strong dynamics (which post-hardcore is renowned for), particularly when the post-rock (think Explosions In The Sky) interlude drops in and is picked up again into a hardcore-esque breakdown. The formula is at once catchy and gives room for maneuver, although also exposes flaws which require tidying.
Next up is the twice-recurring title-track interlude, as the track that follows (“A Is For Arson”) incorporates it as a bridge within the song. While at first this seems like a nifty songwriting idea, after a few spins the novelty wears off. That aside, the song sports a bouncing melody, prominent bass lines and fun-loving pop-punk cleans, especially in the chorus. Unfortunately, the harsh vocals that permeate all but the closing track recall older Enter Shikari (not in a positive way), and are more of a buzzkill than they should be. This comes to a head during “Car Crash (In Progress)”, where a rocking Southern-styled riff is topped with the harsh yelps and produces an incongruous and unsettling effect. The chorus, conversely, is light relief, and a La Dispute-style spoken word is also well-incorporated into the blend for a well-rounded track.
Where the dynamics as a whole EP come in at their most effective is in the final track. “Mistakes” is an intimate and poppy track peppered with crooning cleans and acoustic guitars, exuding a campfire aesthetic. In comparison to the previous three tracks, it is an interesting yet ‘safe’ comedown that the band have chosen to round off the EP with, but ultimately not an unwelcome one. It may also possibly have been intentional, given the last two-track demo was all-acoustic.
Once you get past the harsh vocals, Cold Summer have a fair amount to offer in their allotted brief 14 minutes. Evoking memories of Long Distance Calling strained through Sunny Day Real Estate, the listener is left curious as to which path the band are going to take next, on either a further EP or a full-length. Pick up Wake EP on Bandcamp for PWYP, or give it a listen below!
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