James And The Cold Gun – ‘James And The Cold Gun’

By Katherine Allvey

James And The Cold Gun are, without a shadow of a doubt, the most hyped new band of the summer. After scoring a spot on the same bill as Guns N’ Roses in Hyde Park, and signing to Stone Gossard’s Loosegroove imprint, it’s easy to forget that “South Wales’ Loudest” didn’t even exist before the pandemic. Only a handful of singles have been released so far over the course of 2023, but that’s enough for the band to have announced an autumn tour supporting the mighty Tigercub. The one missing cog in their garage punk machine was a stunning full length debut to prove to the few remaining cynics that James And The Cold Gun are worth their reputation.

Their self titled first album is indeed the record we all hoped, and secretly knew, it would be. It’ll take exactly thirty three seconds for you to agree with that statement as that’s how long it takes the grungy majesty of ‘Chewing Glass’ to kick in, hauling you into the rock n’ roll maelstrom that follows it. Each song rings out like a manifesto daring you to fling yourself around the pit with a Howlin’ Pelle static grace. Robotic guitars grab you by the shoulders and shake you with the kind of car-chase tension characterised by noughties Aussie excitement-vendors The Vines. Each of the more overclocked songs bring its own flavour of headlong intoxication, and each one could hold its own as the background to a British indie flick’s action sequence.

Part of James and The Cold Gun’s appeal is that the unbalanced party rush infusing each track is just a veneer to cover a prevailing sense of loneliness. It’s the musical equivalent of waking up with the taste of regret sticking to your tongue, on a strangers sofa, realising that that you’ve had the greatest night out of your life, but also spent hundreds of pounds and hooked up with your ex. Take ‘Bittersweet’, for instance: yes, there are ribbons of The Cure circling through the vocals and guitar to paint the melody with darkness, but there’s also jumping choruses full of thrashing energy in between the glimpses into the void. At one turn James And The Cold Gun can power a tune like ‘Headlights’ with laser precision and an endless sense of motion, and the next they can drag you down into the depths of the abyss with a song as cutting as ‘Grey Through The Same Lens’. The midnight acceptance of your own isolation and the desolate black waves of longing for comfort make that song a painful reminder of all our lowest moments, and therein lies its beauty.

A question is cast to the audience at the start of ‘Three Years’: “Can you feel it closer now?” If we’re interpreting that as ‘vast head-banging festival crowds enjoying a band whose name appears in ever-larger letters on posters’ then yes, it’s so close that your muscles begin to tighten in anticipation of what they could create from this very solid foundation. What this album will leave in its wake is not just a ‘Silhouette’ but a recognition that this is a band with the skill of tapping into the deepest recesses of their
emotions and throwing them into the wind to create indie chaos that flutters to earth like confetti. It’s safe to say that ‘James and The Cold Gun’ is a marvellously posed polaroid of the start of the band’s career; now all that’s left is waiting to see how their picture develops from a gorgeous outline to full-blown rock n roll colour.

Kate Allvey

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