The creative process for a band can find its spark in many different places. For Leamington Spa duo, Coves, the muse behind their debut LP, ‘Soft Friday’ is our old pal alcohol. According to a recent interview with NME, the outfit divulged that “we operate better when we’re drunk”. While the inception of album closer ‘Wake Up’ was spawned from Beck Wood (vocals) and John Ridgard (guitars/musical architect) taking inspiration from some vino “I remember recording ‘Wake Up’ and having the skeleton of a song. Beck came round but nothing was working. We got really frustrated and bought a couple of bottles of wine. We were in this raucous state and it just came out” is how Ridgard sums up the curtain call to Coves’ primary long player. And they say you can’t find answers at the bottom of a bottle?! Coves found a 10 track album!
‘Soft Friday’ is hazy, sensual amalgamation of rock ‘n’ roll’s darker recesses; Coves have been compared to The Velvet Underground, The Kills and even Spiritualized when it comes to attempting to put a tag on the duo’s sonic appeal. Wood and Ridgard’s debut LP attacks you from different angles, at different speeds and with different techniques. This is an album that is fuzzy yet direct, sultry whilst having an air of menace and heavy despite ‘Soft Friday’s flirtation with psychedelic tangents. Akin to discovering a long lost album from back in the day when rock music was experimental but still ultimately captivating, the Warwickshire band have forged an album of poise and sophistication that reeks of mystique and sex appeal.
At the album’s core, ‘Soft Friday’ conveys a real human emotion, Wood’s lyrics touch on affairs of the heart saddled alongside simple reflections on modern life in general, all played out across a retro, refreshed soundtrack. “Trying to keep myself serene/my heads so washed with troubled dreams/we are not in love it seems” is how Wood announces the stripped back ‘Fool For Your Face’ as if mimicking Big Deal before they plugged their instruments in, Coves’ brittle instrumentation merged with confessional lyrics make for a deeply personal listen. ‘Beatings’ shadowy stance invokes a Tarantino movie, thanks to a surf guitar that slices with mischievousness – Wood on the other hand coos with vapour like demure “You said we’ll die together/but now you lie forever” as if reflecting back on a dissolved relationship. Musically, the textures of rewound noises, reverbed vocals and buoyant percussion blasts strike vivid colours across a noir background.
Psychedelia has seen a dramatic resurgence over recent years and whilst it’s been widely received, it’s a genre that eats out on its own indulgence, luckily Coves’ haven’t been suckered into that trap, ‘Soft Friday’ may unfurl like pungent smoke from a Jostick but the album itself is a concise body of work. ‘Cast A Shadow’ is the pair at their most cohesive, with the band opting for a straight forward garage rock rattle ‘n’ roll over any kaleidoscopic vibes. Still, tracks such as ‘Last Desire’ and ‘Bad Kick To The Heart’ unravel with a haze of brooding aural dope clouds; there’s never the impression Coves have ticked any boxes marked self-congratulatory.
Word and Thoughts of Adam Williams