The Gloss by Cola album review by Ethan Rebalkin for Northern Transmissions


The Gloss


The Gloss is the sophomore album from Cola. Working with a sparse sound palette of just drums/guitar/bass and the intertwinings of Tim Darcy’s compelling delivery and witty lyricism, The Gloss is a worthy addition to the post-punk canon.

Album opener “Tracing Hallmarks” hits you right away with a stark bass riff that sits under an unnervingly dissonant chord progression. It almost feels uncomfortable to listen to but the hook swoops in just before it becomes completely unbearable. Second song in the tracklisting and the album’s final single, “Pulling Quotes” sounds right out of an early Strokes album. With its simple hooks, driving bass, forward-thinking chords and riffs, it’s a very familiar sounding song but is super catchy and approachable. A synth even sits underneath the song, mirroring the chord progression, and adding a lovely texture to the ambience of the track. Reaching the end of the track, I can’t help but wish the song introduced the secondary guitar part sooner.

“Pallor Tricks” kicks in right away with an angular chord progression that rides above a Gang of Four akin bassline. “Pan back to the cameraman slowly / and if you’re able, whisper my line back to me,” Darcy sings. I enjoy the tongue-in-cheek nature of the lyrics. It’s witty but not too over the top or distracting. A soothing mellotron even peaks its head into this track, a texture I wish was more present throughout the rest of the song. The chorus features some especially ear-piquing chord choices and a delicate passage from the vocals. The chorus feels like it could’ve been doing more than what was presented on the final version of the album. The drum part is a bit underwhelming and I’m left wishing the production of the chorus section could’ve added something else to elevate the atmosphere of the part.

“Albatross” immediately pulls you in with a charmingly coarse guitar part and Darcy’s barren vocal style. “Prefer to work without a guide, but I won’t care tonight,” he sings, introducing a careless nature to the track that feels nostalgic. The openness of the pre-chorus guitar part is divine. The big, open chords that sit in the chorus of this song compliment the vocal’s perfectly and give the chorus a really grandiose feeling. This song also features my favorite lines from the whole record – “I’m a lame horse with an optimistic mind.” Simple, but beautifully effective.

“Keys Down If You Stay” has an uncharacteristically uplifting sound to the song. I love the guitar sound on this song; sparkly and light but not too jangly. I can even pick out some subtle acoustic guitar sitting deep in the mix. Overall a really light and pleasant track! Hearing the acoustic guitar in it does make me wish that some of the other songs on the album featured some layers of acoustic guitar. It’s such a subtle addition to a song that can add so much if used appropriately. “Nice Try” is another pretty B-side cut on The Gloss. It features some of the album’s most shiny guitar passages, as well as its most intimate vocal performance.

“Bitter Melon” could be the most interesting song on the album. The song’s guitar and vocal parts remind me of In Rainbows-era Radiohead and even takes some risks with its structure and dynamics, a welcome change of pace. That being said, the risks are a bit too-little, too-late in the album. Cola certainly have the post-punk songwriting and style down pat, but this album isn’t anything that we haven’t heard before in this genre.

Order The Gloss by Cola HERE


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