‘Persistent Malaise’ could describe a lot of things. The Liberal Democrats. Mark Lawrenson. A good brand name for my diet, if you condensed everything I ate and put it into jars. Yet ironically it doesn’t describe the debut album of Cold Pumas, even though that’s what they’ve called the bloody thing.
Perhaps it’s more a description of the time spent making it. After all, they’ve been on the radar for a few years now – did a long period of ennui hinder its creation? It doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that the music of Cold Pumas is more likely to snap you out of a malaise than put you into one.
Musically, their clashing guitars, droning dissonance and muddied vocals produce a sound uncannily similar to Canadian art-rockers Women (indeed, they launched a split single with them a couple of years back). Usually sounding so like another band is a bit off-putting, but in this case it achieves the opposite effect, for two reasons: 1) Women traigically lost guitarist Chris Reimer earlier this year (and were already on hiatus before that) and both man and music are sadly missed; and 2) Women were fucking brilliant, so sounding a lot like them really isn’t a problem.
Standout tracks like “A Versatile Gift” and “Sherry Island” show an expansive attitude towards song-writing, favouring patiently-developed journeys over succinct statements. As a result, the music seems to penetrate deeper into your head, peeling back the papered cracks and snaking around shadowy corners, pervasive and affecting, right up until the triumphantly distorted “Vanishing Point” sees the record out. It might have taken a while for their long-playing vaccine to get here, but it confirms that Cold Pumas are the cure, not the cause.