Wes Eisold doesn’t like to do interviews because he doesn’t think he’s particularly good at communicating. “I don’t want to feel guilty when people invest in me,” he says. “I don’t want to let them down.” So it’s not surprising that he distinctly remembers a stinging critique from the first Cold Cave show, when two of the few girls in attendance walked out afterwards, not knowing he was nearby, and said, “That didn’t sound anything like the record!” Having just told him I was there and being a woman, it’s pretty clear by Eisold’s emphasis of that “anything” that he knows I was one of the critics. I went to the show after buying one of the band’s early singles, a record I picked up because of the smiling androgynous couple on the front who are starkly naked on the back, and relished because of its equally provocative, amorous synth pop. Live, however, Cold Cave were not a nude couple with slinky songs but a line of tattooed guys in peacoats playing seven minutes of bleak noise. I was justifiably confused. As the band has progressed, though, that first show makes more sense. Cold Cave appropriates slick dance to talk more directly about themes common in noise music—obsession and lust—melding the two genres in attitude, if not necessarily in sound.
Five years ago, as the frontman of the much beloved hardcore band Give Up the Ghost, Eisold was notoriously wild onstage, which makes his current reticence even more of a polar shift inward. He’s just not the same person. He used to wear cargo shorts and is now always in black. Hardcore is inherently about total emotional honesty, and dance pop has always been about obfuscation. But clearly this is the proper evolution: Cold Cave is Eisold’s contradictory pop vision. Though Eisold writes all the music himself, he is flanked by Dominick Fernow, better known as noise savant Prurient, and former Xiu Xiu member Caralee McElroy. He asked his two friends to contribute because, he says, “I don’t think I could do justice to the songs to just do it by myself.”
Purposefully awkward or not, Cold Cave’s debut, Love Comes Close, encapsulates the feeling of going to a club only to realize about halfway through the first song that you’re alone and you don’t want to be there. “I think it’s honest,” Eisold says. “I want it to bare all, to be nude at the essence of it.” A year in, the essence of Cold Cave is dance music, but when it’s infused with personal anguish should you actually dance to it? “We played in San Diego and people were dancing,” Eisold says, “It was a shock to us, but we loved it.”
Stream: Cold Cave, Love Comes Close