The Hanging Valley
Angular. Taut. Motorik. Driving. Joy Division. Brooding. A band like Cold Pumas are tricky to discuss without falling into some kind of perverse game of post-punk review bingo. The same references and adjectives pop up time and again in these write-ups, drummed into a critic’s consciousness by years of repetition.
And it’s a fucking drain – there’s no way to describe a record like ‘The Hanging Valley’ without resorting to those sorts of descriptors. But then, most records like this rarely need further elaboration. Cold Pumas’ second album is as brittle as glass, though some edges are smoother; more sedate moments like the Deerhunter-esque ‘A Human Pattern’ and closer ‘Murmur of the Heart’ suggest the four years since their debut have given the band time to reflect.
There are points here where the Hackney-via-Brighton now quartet sound effortless, and others where they don’t seem to be trying at all; the shadows of Curtis, Hook, Sumner and Morris loom particularly large over the pseudo-profound non-sequiturs of ‘Severed Estates’ or the two notes which underpin the Ballard-meets-Burroughs verses on ‘Fugue States’. Yet, the chorus of ‘Open Mouth of Dusk’ (“Black are the clothes you fall asleep in… red is the line I should not cross”) is anthemic and knowingly ridiculous enough to suggest Cold Pumas are capable of more than they let on.
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