Jon Dale’s review of “Love Comes Close” by Cold Cave

Cold Cave

Artist: Cold Cave

Album: Love Comes Close

Critic: Jon Dale

Publication: Dusted, 2009

Writing Disorders: Jargon Palsy, Infectious Punctuation

Most Emo Phrase: “everything here lacks purpose”

TMI: “this stuff was always most exciting when it was on the cusp of getting it on”

 

 

Jon, your writing needs work. I’m tempted to suggest that you stop writing altogether and take a retreat to the countryside, but I still have hope that you can be turned away from the dark side. Look at your first sentence:

 

“The presence of Prurient’s Dominick Fernow on early Cold Cave records sent out a strong signal – Fernow’s discourse is almost Wagnerian in its swagger, and if fully integrated into a populist framework could inject some much-needed depth into the new wave of synthwave.”

 

Ugh, where do I even start with that thing? Let’s talk about the word “discourse.” Using that word to describe music is like using “intercourse” to describe sex or “endorphins” to describe fun.

And then we get this:

 

“…if fully integrated into a populist framework could inject some much-needed depth into the new wave of synthwave”

 

Are you writing about music or municipal open space planning? Jon, that sentence may have been the stuffiest bit of music writing I’ve read so far, and that’s saying a lot. But it’s not as if the jargon ultimately makes sense. What the hell is a populist framework in music? You mean a “fan base?”

 

I feel like I need a decoder ring just to read your review, which from a distance looked like a simple three-paragraph article. Look at how dense this next sentence is:

 

“there are New Order tributes (the title track and “Youth and Lust”), female Germanic Sprechstimme electro (“Cebe And Me”), stubby-fingered arpeggios (“Trees Grew Emotions”), songs that fell off the back of a cold wave cassette compilation (“Hello Rats”).”

 

Jon, you don’t have to pair every metaphor with a parenthetical reference to the track that it’s describing. Whoever decides to listen to the album will probably find out what a song sounds like at the given moment. And when you’re gumming up the sentence with hyphenated phrases and words in foreign languages, the parentheses don’t ease the reader on his quest for understanding. You could have just written this:

 

“There are New Order tributes, female Germanic Sprechstimme electro, stubby-fingered arpeggios, and songs that fell off the back of a cold wave cassette compilation.”

 

It’s still hard to read, but at least for those who want to read it there’s slightly more potential to succeed.

 

Now that I think of it, do you even WANT us to be able to read this, Jon? I even wondered whether this review was your version of the Sokal affair, where a mathematics professor made fun of postmodernism by writing BS so well that it convinced authorities in the field. I mean Jesus, read some of this:

 

“the bombast of Yazoo meeting the intense hermeticism of My Dad Is Dead”

“home-spun synth-pop plumbing obsessive interiors”

“the flirtation with eroticism simply an abbreviated spin on Depeche Mode”

 

Jon, I figure there are two motivations for writing about music. One is to be read. The other is a love of music. Now, if you’re aiming to be read, you’re not off to a good start. And if you’re writing these tracts because you love music…then I suggest sticking with loving the music and writing in a diary.

 

It seems moot, but I’ll end on a subtle bit of irony I pulled out of this muck:

 

“The reality of Cold Cave, though, is that they’re dull”

 

I’m not a scientist or anything, Jon, but I wouldn’t exactly qualify your writing as the most exciting thing since the wheel. Keep it in mind.

2 thoughts on “Jon Dale’s review of “Love Comes Close” by Cold Cave

  1. I don’t understand this equation:

    female Germanic Sprechstimme electro + stubby-fingered arpeggios + bombast + intense hermeticism = dull

    “Dull” sounds to me like something deserving of fewer far-flung comparisons and hyperbolic adjectives.

  2. Yes, whatever it was he was describing sounds pretty exciting, actually. Can’t go wrong with “female” adjacent to “Germanic.” Sexy.

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