ALBUM REVIEW: Mother by Cold Beat

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WRITTEN BY: Vince Barreras

The San Francisco band Cold Beat is back with their new record Mother on New York label DFA records. This marks their debut on the label, and their fifth record since 2014. Blending elements of cold wave, electronic, post-punk and shoegaze, this record is heavy on atmosphere, and extremely pleasant on the ears. Each track blends into one another with layers of electronic beats, twinkly guitars, and other ambient noise to create a universe that sucks the listener in. From a production standpoint, it’s clean, and polished, and shows a high level of care was put into creating this record. Anyone who listens will be immediately sucked into the landscapes each of these songs create. Each listen, fans will be able to spot different nuances of the mix, and different aspects they didn’t catch before. Its deep, and enthralling, which will have listeners coming back to explore what they can discover each time. Hannah Lew, the mastermind behind Cold Beat, wrote the record while she was pregnant, and contemplating the state of the world. Its dark, but also incredibly honest in telling a story of our world’s current affairs.

“Smoke” opens up as a kind of ambient, and twinkly track that has pieces of vocal processing. It sounds robotic and utters a few cryptic messages, and slowly fades into the more upbeat track “Prism,” with its electronic drum pads, and synth that really gives space to the vocals and a dreamy and spacey vibe that really works.  Hannah Lew talks about being trapped in a dark and colorless prison, and the instrumentation begins to build and build as it abruptly ends. “Paper” picks up where “Prism” left off with more of the same type of instrumentation where the listener is brought into a space of electronic sounds, a drum beat that holds the guitars and other ambience intact. Again, Hannah Lew is singing about a feeling of confinement. “Hold me down. I’m thin as paper, and I want to drown.” With the context of the album being written during the singer’s pregnancy, this could echo sentiments of uncertainty of the world that takes a toll on the singer’s mental state. Towards the back end of the track, saxophones are brought into the mix and ambient vocals that are almost inaudible but add mystery behind the track, think Cocteau Twins.

“Pearls” begins with an upbeat and fun synth track. Hannah’s angelic vocals carry this song as they seem to flow and blend perfectly with this danceable synth composition. The ending track to side A, “Gloves,” sounds more of an industrial or dark-wave song. The instrumentation fits the mood of the track as feelings of confinement and alienation are once again explored. “Solitude so exciting” helps the listener really feel what Hannah is going through. 

Side B begins with “Through,” the sounds of a stormy night, a car crashing and glass shattering begin this tune into another upbeat synth pop track with elements of dark ambiance blending together. Hannah’s vocals help guide the track. “Double Sided Mirror” uses dark synth and ambience, mixed with really grand and full production to create a song that feels massive. The title track, “Mother,” perhaps the most lyrically dark song on the record. It slowly fades into the mix as a prominent 80s inspired synth and new wave style track that incorporates swirling effects, and continued vocal reverb that really complements the tracks haunting, but also very real lyrics, “Mother will they drop the bomb? They tear down truths, they build up walls. Boots in piles, and drones in sky. A siren for a lullaby.” A political message of destruction. “Crimes” seems to have the opposite effect to the last song. A more lowkey and casual listen that reads like a healing tale of redemption with the lines “All my crimes are behind me. I’ve already torn up the page.” The album concludes with “Flat Earth,” another one of these really catchy and simple tracks that are heavy on atmosphere but can remain with the listener as the album comes to a close. 

Mother is yet another solid outing for Cold Beat. A mix of really pleasant synth songs, but keeps the setlist fresh with different variations of the genre that help keep everything moving until the concluding track. For fans of Hannah Lew, or other synth-based acts, this record is a must listen!

For fans of: Berlin, Depeche Mode

Tracklist:

Side A:

  1. Smoke
  2. Prism
  3. Paper
  4. Glass
  5. Pearls
  6. Gloves

Side B:

  1. Through
  2. Double Sided Mirror
  3. Mother
  4. Crimes
  5. Flat Earth

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