Basements hung with fairy lights, 60s tape reels spinning antique spools, drums dusted with white powder. Gritty riffs and psych rock washes slither beneath airy, blissed-blank Nico vocals spinning spectral tales of shattered romance. A beautifully ruined pair – he a leather-clad glowering guitar phantom, she a glacial, broken bombshell – blow glitter at each other through the flashes from old cameras.
This is the world of Coves, a classic psych-garage aesthetic vacuum-sealed forever in one time, one space. The space is Castle Grayskull, the live-in studio that musical mastermind John Ridgard helped build in a disused office in Leamington Spa and where their debut album was recorded. The time covers the duration of singer and lyricist Beck Wood’s last big relationship, laid out in her songs from first flutter to final choke. Beck turned up at Castle Greyskull with wine and lyric sheets and the two would spend hazy evenings piecing her woes and vitriol around his acidic pop melodies. The results were swiftly spectacular.
Produced and mixed by Brendan Lynch (Primal Scream, Paul Weller), the 10-track album includes “Honeybee,” which was the first song Beck and John wrote together and arguably their most vicious, the sitar’n’synth psych-pop wonder “No Ladder” and the propulsive garage beauty “Cast A Shadow” (“that’s about when I got back with him and all the frustration in the relationship,” says Beck).
Also on the album is the beguiling synthetic pound of “Last Desire” (“the actual end of that relationship. Once again. That was the ‘done and dusted’ song…”). “Beatings” marked the end of Beck’s lyrical journey through the wreckage of that relationship – “My heart stops beating for you,” she coos, finally shedding the heartache. It also marked the end of recording the album and Coves’ cruel but creative year at Castle Greyskull.