Review Summary: art lives on
I’ve been trying to write this review of Cold Collective’s new album Weathervane
for a while now. How should one start writing about a late vocalist’s final record, pieced together by his bandmates after his passing? What’s the rulebook for this situation - do you start by mentioning that Tim Landers passed away a few years ago and was mostly known for his guitar work on pop punk outfit Transit’s music? Do you indicate that the album’s beauty is twofold; it’s not merely a touching tribute, it’s also a collection of excellent songs? Truth is: I don’t know. There is no rulebook for this, and much more importantly, there’s no rulebook for a band making one final album using the art of someone who no longer exists; someone who has no input on anything that subsequently comes into existence. All you can do is that which feels right, and as bleak as the situation surrounding Weathervane
may be, its existence and quality feel entirely right.
Throughout its sixteen tracks, Weathervane
explores several corners of mid-2000s inspired emo, finding a middle ground between punk and indie rock, persistently grounded by Landers’ wonderfully weathered voice. As such, his vocals act as an anchor, guiding the album from songs that sound like demos - likely because they are - to the more fully developed cuts. Yet, the demo-like nature of some tracks does not detract from the album’s quality whatsoever: if anything, the tasteful implementation and contrasting of such moments adds to the experience’s authenticity. The one-two punch of ‘Forever, For Nico’ and ‘Quicksand’ demonstrates this perfectly: the former, a delicate acoustic breather, complements delicately unclear imagery (“All alone I was a polygraph / But I’d wait here for two / Half hope and a flagstaff / From a blood moon eclipse / To the holes in my shoes
”) with equally distorted production, like a preserved message from the past finally finding the light it deserves. ‘Quicksand’, on the other hand, boasts a blistering concoction of riffs, drums and lyrics that could hardly be clearer: “I’d rather be hated for who I am / Than loved for who I’m not
”. The contrast between the songs is a highly loveable one that is simultaneously smoothed over by sheer heart: the passion for the music is palpable, no moment is left to waste.
As such, Weathervane
comes with no pretences: each song appears to be constructed in a way that feels
intuitive, and consequently, exactly right. On the expansive ‘I’m Sorry (Idiosyncrasy)’ this means allowing the song to breathe on go on the journey it describes; on ‘Wait For It’ this means properly highlighting the excellent chorus hook. Besides having managed to make the hour-long experience completely filler free, Cold Collective’s biggest feat can be found in their ability to respectfully finish the songs that may not have been fully completed by Landers. ‘Downhearted’, for example, retains its appealingly incomplete aura while, somewhat contradictorily, also feeling like a fully accomplished track. The band do not try to fill in empty space in ways that cannot be replicated; instead, the track boasts a delicate interplay of guitars and bass during its bridge, acknowledging the undeniable void while enhancing the song at the very same time. Similarly, the grungy undertones on songs such as ‘Secondhand Smoke’ and ‘Little’ add to the record’s atmosphere in unprecedented ways: the combination of sheer catchiness and a hazy atmosphere adding a sadly fitting air of melancholy.
At the end of the day, Weathervane
should not have sounded the exact way it does, and yet, it is perfect for what it is. It’s never trying to be anything it’s not: instead, it’s a tribute to a wonderful musician; it’s a celebration of life; it’s a varied collection of sixteen excellent songs. As such, the album feels like a small but important feat against humanity’s eternal war with death: Weathervane
ensures that every sound is in its right place, even when not everyone can be in the right place. Tim Landers forever.