Cold Years – ‘Paradise’

By Tom Walsh

The relationship between a hometown and its inhabitants can often be a complicated one. There are those that have a deep-seated sense of pride about where they grew up, some who have moved away and have become nostalgic for the comforts, and others that completely resent the surroundings they were raised in. Cold Years fall into the latter category.

Hailing from the northeastern Scottish outpost of Aberdeen, they don’t look too fondly upon the Granite City. While vocalist Ross Gordon describes his hometown as a “shithole”, it has fuelled a wholly impressive debut album. Taking their cues from the likes of Polar Bear Club and later-Rise Against, they’ve balled up all their frustrations of the claustrophobia of living in a place they detest into solid rock songs.

No doubt about it, ‘Paradise’ is not the most comfortable of listens.  When it comes to discussing depression, divorce and the sheer exasperation of living in somewhere where you feel there is absolutely no hope, Gordon squeezes every sinew out onto the tape with no holds barred.

There are some real anthems in here, the melancholic ‘Northern Blues’ talks of a willingness to escape, while ‘62 (My Generation’s Falling Apart)’ is a brutal take on the future facing millennials. There are tender moments with the tremendous opener of ‘01 31’, in which Gordon contrasts his own life falling apart with the pride he sees in the happiness of his sister on her wedding day.

That is what Cold Years do so well in ‘Paradise’ – While there is a bubbling anger of what they see as a dead end town with no prospects, there are still shoots of hope. They dream of breaking out, and taking their friends with them. ‘Burn The House Down’ envisions running away, while ‘Dropout’ pulls you back into their reality of feeling stuck.

For a debut, ‘Paradise’ sets the bar suitably high for this Aberdeen five-piece. Gordon’s lyrics are searing, heartfelt and hard-hitting, the guitar work of Finlay Urquhart creates enormous choruses with simple, yet effective riffs while the drumming of Fraser Allan brings everything together effortlessly.

On this showing, Cold Years are among the most promising British bands to appear on the scene in 2020. Following in the footsteps of their Aberdeen contemporaries, The Xcerts, they are no doubt set to escape the self-professed stifling nature of their hometown and reach new heights.

TOM WALSH

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