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Album ReviewsBlog post

Album Review: Cold Years – Paradise

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Release Date: 04/09/2020

Record Label: eOne / Inside Job

For Fans Of: The Gaslight Anthem, Bruce Springsteen, Brian Fallon

The following review contains rock and roll of the purest form; undiluted by commercialisation and void of any abandoned principles in the questionable quest for approval from radio stations. Cold Years are here with their eagerly anticipated debut album, Paradise; a collection of songs that echo a generation of disaffected youth in post-Brexit Britain. It’s an album that feels personal but at the same like it belongs to everyone, full of anger but also resilience, and intimately private but also open and honest.

Don’t be fooled by the title, Paradise is not an album about sunshine, sea, and sand. The title is a sarcastic jibe at their hometown, Aberdeen, that the four-piece believe is as far from Paradise as can be. It’s such character and perspective that underpins Cold Years and has led to an ever-increasing reputation for being a fresh and original upcoming band, with an abundance of potential.

When people imagine their version of paradise, it’s unique and individual. Cold YearsParadise consists of guitar that is dynamic and vibrant, the drumming attacks each and every track with a reverberating boom that echoes throughout the record, and the vocals are the perfect mixture of gritty and wild, but also polished and refined when required. Efforts such as ‘Breathe’, ‘Life With A View’ and ‘Burn The House Down’ almost scream from the top of their lungs “long live rock ‘n roll!”, while others such as the thumping ‘62 (My Generation’s Falling Apart)’ show that rock isn’t just alive, it’s also kicking.

Paradise has a huge storytelling aspect to it – and we’re not talking about the CBeebies Bedtime Story variety. This has the feel of record that in its creation involved some deep and honest looking into the mirror from Cold Years. Frontman Ross Gordon has been through a divorce, through different relationships, through changes in jobs, and it’s such turbulence and transition in life that sets the backdrop for this record. ‘Night Like This’ is one of these melodic tales; a catchy song with heart, tempo, and a narrative, but it’s not alone in that sense. 

While Paradise might be born from a place of relative doom and gloom, singing of challenging times and delivering a dose of reality that will bring you back down to earth with a bump, this record has more depth to it than just this. In amongst the misery, there are some glimpses of joy, rare rays of sunshine from a bleak, cloudy northeast Scotland. ‘Dropout’ is one of those slices of love, bubbling under the surface with a refreshing warmth and affection.

Cold Years have an apparent effortless ability to pen songs that invoke a response deep from within, empowering and energising, by making your heart both ache and pound simultaneously. ‘31’, ‘Northern Blues’ and ‘Electricity’ capture this aspect of the band brilliantly, armed with passion and fire, in the form of uplifting rock ballads that deserve to be belted out with every ounce of energy you can muster.

Paradise is an album that within its DNA is battle-hardened and resilient. Cold Years didn’t throw this together and hope for the best; it was a process that was anything but straight forward as the band scrapped everything they had and started from scratch when they weren’t happy with what they had produced at one point and were unclear on the direction in which they were heading. The band themselves have admitted that as individuals they needed to grow and that in doing so their music would reflect these journeys. Cold Years no longer fear change, they’re learning to embrace it.

Paradise is a phenomenal record teeming with flawless rock anthems that exude an understated, endearing modesty. Cold Years might have taken their time creating this debut album but the care and consideration involved makes for a release that is unapologetically the sum of all their parts, enriched with their trademark honesty and character.

Rating: 9/10

Recommended Track: ‘Night Like This’

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