Cold Years – ‘Goodbye To Misery’

By Sean Reid

Let’s admit it, the past two years or so have been a little weird for all of us. The pandemic affected everyone in different ways; some used it to learn new skills while others used the time to reconnect with former loves, whether that be people, books, films. In the case of Cold Years’ Ross Gordon, he reconnected with music. The Aberdeen trio’s second full-length, ‘Goodbye To Misery’, is partly influenced by Gordon’s revitalised adoration for great albums. The other part is a punk-spirited commentary on the current socio-political climate.

From the sullen opening lines of ’32’, Gordon paints an introspective picture before guitarist Finlay Urquhart and bassist Louis Craighead arrive to deliver a shot of adrenaline. Welcoming a hook-heavy approach, Cold Years soon embrace an anthemic quality that treads the line of stadium and punk rock. Further evidence of this bigger sound can be heard on ‘Headstone’ and the rose-tinted ‘Home’.

Nevertheless, it’s the lyrical nature that serves as the anchor on ‘Goodbye To Misery’. ‘Britain Is Dead’ sees Gordon take a cut-throat approach as he comments on cultural ignorance. “Come load up on hate, put it straight in my veins / The end of everything as we know it,” he sings with a bitter tongue. Likewise, ‘Never Coming Back’ and ‘Wasting Away’ each take a similar approach, highlighting a hopeless future. They’re wrapped in a catchy punk rock skin that rumbles along with energy, harking back to bands such as Green Day and Against Me!

Cold Years have always worn their influences on their collective sleeves. While the Gaslight Anthem and The Menzingers have often been used as a comparison, ‘Goodbye To Misery’ tries its best to expand beyond those influences. The aforementioned ’32’ is reminiscent of ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’, albeit less theatrical, whereas ’Say Goodbye’ is a rumbling, power chord Green Day-esque pop-punk number.

That’s not to say Cold Years lack originality, as ‘Goodbye To Misery’ offers plenty of it. ‘Home’ is a poignant highlight that embraces a confident Americana sound, with Gordon singing about having the need to leave his hometown whilst knowing it’ll always be his home. Later on, ‘Kicking and Screaming’ thrives with Craighead’s thick bassline, a soaring chorus, and a scorching guitar solo, capturing the spirited approach of the band.

Unsurprisingly, ‘Jack Knife’ is a sharper cut before ‘Control’ rounds the album out in a celebratory mood. With its upbeat, pulsating tempo, ‘Control’ captures Gordon’s mindset of coming out of a difficult period of realisation. “I’m never looking back, and I’m never giving up again, I’m tired of being controlled,” he proclaims against a thunderous background.

For all the personal trials and tribulations Gordon has experienced in recent years, he and his bandmates have brilliantly captured the frustration of living in a no-name town in Great Britain. Furthermore, they repeatedly exemplify the need to escape these frustrations, whether that be through getting drunk (see ‘Headstone’), living on our smartphones (‘Never Coming Back’), or the general urge to up sticks and leave.

By blending various recognisable influences with lyrically honest and relatable songs, Cold Years have crafted a record to be proud of. While ‘Goodbye To Misery’ isn’t likely to send Cold Years to the stratosphere, it’s a record to be appreciated for its down-to-earth approach. One that is carried with a heartfelt punk rock fist in the air, delivered with sincerity.

SÊAN REID

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