Cold Years hit a very particular spot where it’s so easy to like them, but it’s also not hard to see why they aren’t breaking through to the upper levels of the industry. About five to ten years ago, that would’ve been a completely different story, before a shifting tide made earnest, punk-inflected Britrock a bit obsolete compared to the more obviously creative acts that would show up in its wake. That’s an assessment that’s been made numerous times with more bands than you’d care to remember, but among them all, Cold Years feel like one of the most deserving of their chance to shine. They tend to punch higher than most on the same wavelength, more akin to mid-period Deaf Havana in both lyrical dexterity, and a fondness for a sound that can easily balance ruggedness with easy accessibility. Even in a couple of steps back towards punk again on Goodbye To Misery, the undeniable rollick stands so prominently to foster that bigger sound. But with that comes the tentative steps at something else that, compared to an unshakable core like this, can feel a bit like half-measures; allusions are made to My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade, and while that can certainly be felt most in opener 32’s more operatic scope, it’s not an instantaneous switch into something far grander overall. The blustery British atmosphere and Ross Gordon’s burr are too entrenched in their existing mould for that, even to the extent where this doesn’t even feel that transitional in its aims. That’s not to say this isn’t good though, as said entrenchment still proves extremely fruitful when it comes to immensely tuneful and punchy rock such as this. The hooks on Headstone and Jane are where it really pays dividends, in showing off how unbridled Cold Years’ spirit is at its best. You won’t find an outright dud on here, all down to how it’ll charge forward with its arms aloft and embrace the rush.
That makes a lot of sense given what Goodbye To Misery as a phrase engenders, coming back to a state of liberation and normalcy after the last two years, where even though things are yet to be rectified (and, let’s be honest, probably never fully will), it’s worth barrelling forward nonetheless. There’s pragmatism within that—“We’re generation fuck-it-all,” belts Gordon on 32, while the title of Britain Is Dead speaks for itself—but ultimately Cold Years are boosted and buoyed by their own defiance and steadfastness. That in itself is just a naturally engaging sentiment, a grounding of emotion that lesser Britrock in this lane would try to emulate but very seldom get right. The difference is that Cold Years feel believable; Gordon is a formidable presence in the crunch lent by both his rasp and the in-built hardness of his Scottish brogue, and that injects considerable momentum to songs like Wasting Away and Say Goodbye in how they’ll bound along, or especially the grungier touches on Jack Knife. By comparison, the choppy heartland strums of Control are a bit of a step back in Old Souls-era Deaf Havana emulation that feels tacked onto the end rather than serving the whole album, but the tone is still there. Cold Years have the consistent gusto that makes it so, and Goodbye To Misery ends up being expectedly entertaining as a result. Cold Years are fully equipped to tackle every factor of this album with ease, and the fact that isn’t seen as an opportunity to coast is what nudges it up a couple of notches. It’s uniformly solid work from a uniformly solid band; come festival season, this will go down an absolute treat.
For fans of: Hot Water Music, Deaf Havana, The Gaslight Anthem
‘Goodbye To Misery’ by Cold Years is released on 22nd April on Inside Job / MNRK.
Words by Luke Nuttall