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Coves - Peel

by Jeff Penczak Rating:8 Release Date:2016-04-13

Not the Australian hardcore band spouting vomitosis across the airwaves, but the British duo John Ridgard and Beck Wood who return with their sophomore effort, chock-full of the kind of nu-gazey psych-pop that the legendary eponymous BBC DJ (who may or may not have inspired the title) would certainly have featured on his shows.

Things get off to a puzzling start with ‘Cadavalier’ (even Wood doesn’t know what it means, although a quick peak at an urban dictionary suggests a mash-up of a cadaver and a small American car like the Cavalier). Considering that the duo recently relocated to London, it could be about uprooting your life to find greener pastures, and it whizzes by at an appropriately breakneck speed.

‘You’re Evil’ is a mash-up of another sort (vicious, punky distortion crashing into grungy, industrial noise) and isn’t as successful. Ridgard confesses that ‘Stormy’ was a “quick, throwaway song”, but sometimes those are the best –overthinking a song tends to drain its energy, but this one jumps right out of your speakers and strangleholds your attention right to the bitter end. A good choice for the album’s focus track. I also liked ‘To The Sea’, a swaying, stormtrooper of a tune with Wood giving it her best Siouxsie squeal.

Side two is even better, kicking off with the bright, bubbly summery ‘See Me Love Me’, another chanting singalong that’ll invite audience participation in a massive group hug, arms akimbo, and lighters flickering. Wood slides into a sexy Bjorkish giggle that completes this fun track. A gurgling synth sidles through ‘I Just Don’t Care’, delivered with another appropriately Bjorkish snarl, although I thought I heard some Debbie Harry bitchiness scratching through the surface. Bitching guitar work from Ridgard on this one is another plus.

Wood tries on a sexy Sarah Cracknellian swagger on ‘So Empty’, admittedly inspired by Saint Etienne’s 'Big Beat'. You’ll be drawn to the dancefloor with this one. A nice change of pace follows with ‘I’m Not Here’, a bit of a downer and navel gazer that adds a nice reflective note to the more upbeat stompers that preceded it, but the wall of guitars and Wood’s emotional pleading add up to my favourite track on the bunch. This one’s a cranker-upper that ranks up their with ol’ Noel Gallagher’s finest. And then we wrap up with ‘Tongue Ties’, a two-finger salute to the hectic rat race of London traffic, life, and people – all in a hurry to go nowhere. Ridgard said it best when describing this one: “The whole of London needs to get on anger management and valium.” This one should get them headed in the right direction.

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