Review Summary: “It’s good to have a tether.”
“So much for feeling grounded.” There was an irony in how this line from “It’s Late” met with my perception of Cola
: that, contrary to what its dream pop classification would suggest, the album feels grounded, sober even, in its loops, steady pulses, and gentle strumming. But this characteristic isn’t to be regretted -- the six-minute opus of “It’s Late”, with its trance-like beat and constantly hovering synthesizers, is reassuring solidity. Any haze and reverb on Cola
warms, but does not confuse or obfuscate; and repetition, as used by “It’s Late”, does not hypnotize so much as remind us of the foundation that we stand on.
The other major aspect of Cola
is its contentment, containing a certain acceptance of restlessness. The album rests in an easy coexistence between less structured vignettes (i.e. “Heat Wave” and “Hum”) and its more patiently evolving songs. There exists a contrast between the upbeat and the contemplative, one that becomes more notable after you notice that the songs exemplifying the former (“I Don’t Believe It”, “Stay Away”) flow into those of the latter (“It’s Late”, “Ash”). It’s one of the reasons why I would hesitate to describe this album as joyful, or representing some form of unbridled happiness; for instance, “Ash” evokes for me weariness, but specifically the pleasant kind that only hard-earned accomplishment can engender. Of course, contentment isn’t qualified happiness, but something more complete; indeed, the effervescence of “Stay Away” is made more meaningful by “Ash” and its restraint.
is cryptic, but I’m convinced that ambiguity is secondary to the merits of the album. When I reached the conclusion that Cola
embodied contentment, it was because I could perceive the various parts that were integrated, peaceful and chaotic; ambiguity would have sought to conceal, to leave us wondering about what we were feeling in the way that a half-forgotten dream would have. Cola
feels too concrete to be in the realm of dreams and instability; it grounds me where I am for the better.