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It was only a year ago when Cold Beat released Over Me, a combination of post-punk-pop and shoegazey garage-pop. Instead of touring and promoting the heck out of their critically acclaimed album, they decided to return to the studio and record a new on. On their third full-length, Into The Air, the San Francisco-based quartet have reinvented themselves. Out are the hyper-charged tempo and melodies and the pounding drums and bass, replaced by keys and synthesizers and a move towards late-’70s and early-’80s pop, new wave, synth-pop, and, for good measure, industrial. In less than a year, Cold Beat have gone from being compared alongside Speedy Ortiz and Swearin’ to transforming themselves into a present-day version of Blondie.
Cold Beat’s new approach starts with vocalist, bassist, and primary songwriter Hannah Lew. Her vocals take on the deep, sultry nature of Debbie Harry while her stories similarly focus on the many relationships encountered throughout life. Musically, Lew along with Kyle King (guitar), Jackson Blumgart (guitar), and Susi Leni (drums) adopt the multi-genre sound of the NYC greats. The opening tracks, “Bruno”, “Outrunning Shadows”, and “Broken Lines”, resurrect the glittery pop-rock of the ’70s.
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It is the second half of the album, however, where the band really shines. On the middle track, “Cracks”, Cold Beat head into the depths of dark new wave with dramatic effect. “7 Sisters” blends Faust-esque krautrock with the melodic pop of Slowdive on this superb track. It is at the synth-pop beauty, “Spirals”, where the album reaches its climax. Channeling Harry once again, Lew’s voice is haunting and stirring at the same time while the synthesizers and keys are lush and breathtaking in the way that CHVRCHES’ and Grimes’ music have moved us.
It’s a remarkable feat for a band to suddenly change course in such a short time. Cold Beat could have easily fallen flat, but they smartly channel a great band. While the foundations are based on classical genres, they’ve transformed them in way that is accessible to modern sensibilities, and, as a result, Cold Beat has created a dazzling album.
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