Album Reviews

COW: When The Darkness Gets You Down

The local indie-rockers find common ground on their latest EP.

All local scenes have a revolving cast of acts that come and go, but COW aren’t one of them. The Liverpool/North Wales four-piece have been one of the constants on the local circuit for some time now.

A band producing the kind of sounds indicative of its members boasting solid record collections, COW’s brand of dreamy indie-rock isn’t something mirrored across the north west. This fact alone has helped them carve out good opportunities, playing shows up and down the country and drawing in new followers along the way.

Spearheaded by vocalist/guitarist Kyle Lee (also of Gintis) with Jason Baxter (guitars) Web (bass) and Doug (drums), COW released When The Darkness Gets You Down EP earlier this year. It follows their 2019 EP, All My Friends Are Dead To Me – a release that perhaps didn’t garner the plaudits it deserved, largely down to any post-release momentum being thwarted by COVID.

Anyone who has seen COW in the live arena will know that they are a tight unit. A band who doesn’t complicate things, finding their rewards amongst simplicity, COW’s live ethos continues on When The Darkness Gets You Down.

Starting with Better Than I Am. With a metallic blur that echoes shoegaze touchstones coupled with a tinge of Pavement homage, Better Than I Am is arguably the finest track COW have released to date. And because of that it could be said that they make a rod for their own back with the final three tracks.

COW - The Darkness Gets You Down

Fear not, though. The sunroof sway of On and On not only hints at an unhealthy Grandaddy obsession (don’t worry, we’ve all been there), it’s also a song tailor-made for the bright weather we are currently enjoying. So, too Notemakers. A breezy no-frills rocker that, for those already familiar, has become hard to shift from the playlist.

With themes that match its moniker, the closing title track is cloaked in the kind of morose milieu most have found themselves in during the last couple of years. It’s essentially an indie-rock lament fit for these times. As Lee sings, “It’s alright/I won’t die,” one could construe some optimism here, matching the sunny splendour of the preceding three tracks.  

Every scene needs a band like COW: chief dispensers of good, honest songs. Admittedly, these days it’ll never be smooth sailing for a band like this. A lot of graft with little reward to show for it, COW have cult following written all over them, and for a band whose members aren’t afraid to wear their influences on their sleeve (quite literally, for they like a band T-shirt or two), I’m sure they’ll take that.

They are a band in it for the right reasons, and should they continue to churn out releases like When The Darkness Gets You Down, then they will continue to steal a few more hearts along the way.

When The Darkness Gets You Down is out now via Mai 68 Records. Purchase from Bandcamp.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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