Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

The Gloss is Cola's search for deeper meaning and regained joy

"The Gloss"

Release date: 14 June 2024
Cola The Gloss cover
12 June 2024, 09:00 Written by Matt Young

With a non-stop live tour in their rearview Cola absconded.

The trio of Tim Darcy, Ben Stidworthy and Evan Cartwright decamped to NDG in Montreal with the simple intent of capturing the tight camaraderie the three had built on since their debut album Deep In View back in 2022. Armed with little in the way of premise and planning the songwriting is more expansive, possesses more feeling, and is drawn live from the studio floor with minimal overdubs. The Gloss captures the trio in the room, in the moment.

Cartwright takes on more songwriting duties bringing his jazz-inflected vernacular and multi-instrumentalist skills to the fore. Darcy’s vocals prowl and languidly orate narratives that could be novels and films in another life. The literary descriptions and referential nods fill in the gaps where their sparse, simple musical cohesion allows.

The album title is drawn from the lyrics of the mantra-like, kosmische-enraptured album closer “Bitter Melon” and relates to a fictionalized tale of a late night spent studying ‘the gloss’, notes made in textbooks, and the allusion that this peripheral marginalia contains a truth or commentary not alive in the page's printed words. Its subtle warm tones allow the intriguing lyrics to unfurl in a beguiling fashion.

We arrived at this point organically. From the poetic chime of the opening track “Tracing Hallmarks” where Darcy is heard singing, “Skip the malnutrition / A sign of what you need / Oh, better come back to it / Basking and serene” perhaps in response to the frustration present on their debut release? His delivery is part Tom Verlaine, part Stephen Malkmus. The latter of course shares a musical kinship with David Berman’s (Silver Jews) garage poetry and serves as a standout inspiration for the krautrock punk sound of Cola.

There is a mix of winsome romanticism and righteous anger throughout the album, but it’s occasionally difficult to see which are tongue-in-cheek or genuine. “Pulling Quotes” is a lively, hooky good time. “Parlour Tricks” and “Albatross” both crankily pull in and out, breezily and brightly, with thin guitar riffs, agitated rhythms, and thick bouncing basslines. “Down To Size” seemingly rounds out a set of songs that play with these tensions and present an overt attitude musically and lyrically. Think of a less belligerent Mark E Smith fronting the metronomic hypnotism of Faust.

Cartwright switching from drums to a delicate lead guitar on “Nice Try” lends the album the closest thing to a love song Cola has recorded to date but as if self-sabotaging the immediate follow on dense synth waves and hectic crunch of “Bell Wheel” obliterates that warm feeling soon enough.

Gloss can be superficial. Superfluous and shiny in a way that distracts and feels artificial but here within the context of three friends, and bandmates, enjoying creating music you can buy into the idea of ‘gloss’ as a critical sharing of ideas filling the margins. Cola works like a precision machine and makes for an album bursting with energy and sardonic wit. The restless sonic aura they create is always searching and glows in a very human way.

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