Heartache and revenge. It’s amazing how often those come up as the major influences on an album. You’d think, just once, a record might be informed by a period of great stability, of the decision to get a joint account and spend weekends at B&Q looking at paint swatches for the spare room.
But no. ‘Soft Friday’ covers the end of Beck Wood’s (singer and lyricist) last relationship and is an album with doomed romance writ large over it. Still, when it’s not your own, doomed romance can sound pretty great. Particularly when it’s a doomed romance that ends with the kind of soft focus noise-pop that Coves muster.
A noir-y take on break up. One done, albeit with a blanker expression, by Lana Del Rey last year. It’s a aesthetic which Coves seemed to have perfected on last year’s cover of ‘Wicked Game’ (which isn’t featured, despite recently appearing in various televisual trails) and one which is stuck to pretty firmly here. So that’s tortured tales of passion, delivered via breathy vocals that lie between ‘not bothered’ and ‘asthmatic’, in surroundings heavy with reverb and echo.
Happily though, there’s plenty of ‘Soft Friday’ that suggests that Coves are good enough to pin their shtick to their own songs and come out with something really good. On ‘Fool For Your Face’, a looping guitar and the flat snap of distant sounding drums wrap around Wood’s vocal in fine style, before the whole thing is given a thick coating of bitterness. The sort of dejection you can really get your teeth into.
Elsewhere, the way the exasperation drips off ‘Honeybee’ is little short of fantastic. “You are not my honey / No, no, I’m not your bee”, Wood haughtily announces, with the disdain of Edie Sedgewick flicking ash from her cigarette at an unwanted suitor.
There’s bits of Mazzy Star in here, bits of the Velvet Underground and hints of the Jesus and Mary Chain - at least in the way that anyone who over the last twenty years has used fuzz as an artistic device hints at the Jesus and Mary Chain. But also, peaking out from under the cover of those influences, is an album that is atmospheric, distinctive and very enjoyable. It’s a fine debut. Make that long term relationships 0, heartache and revenge 14,367.
Psychedelic two-piece will headline eight dates in March.