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Coldharbourstores - Vesta

  by Adrian Janes

published: 26 / 3 / 2019

Coldharbourstores - Vesta
Label: Enraptured
Format: CD


Third album from British dream-pop quartet Coldharbourstores has light and warmth but doesn’t fully catch fire

In their twenty-year existence, Coldharbourstores have previously produced just two albums: ‘More Than The Other’ was released in 2002, but ‘Wilderness’ came out in 2017, so the arrival of ‘Vesta’ relatively soon after suggests they have now found a greater coherence and creative momentum. With its airy synth intro and wispy vocals, opener ‘Castle’ at times feels so light it might float away into the sky. But the poppy tendency in ‘Vesta’ is usually counterbalanced in some way, in this case by a ballast of strong bass and a chorus more forceful than the verses, or as in ‘Remaining’, where a bright 1980's-style chorus encounters a barbed guitar, both songs recalling the sheen though not so much the shadow of Propaganda. The summit of poppiness is apparently reached on ‘Disenchantment’, as it ascends via piano, a pounding beat and polished synth lines. But such a title, and Lucy Castro’s typically diffident singing, imply something murkier beneath the gleaming surface. The dark, intricate bass on ‘Something You Do Not Know’ and ‘Speak You Me’ performs a similar function of underlying disturbance. One of the more satisfyingly rich tracks is the evocatively-titled ‘Champagne & Blood’, where Castro alternates between almost spoken verses and, in the chorus, a leap in pitch and into longer notes, all against a backdrop of piano, synth and guitar. ‘Girl Aware’ is pushed forward by decisive bass and glittering synth chords, the melodica that emerges in the coda a reminder of one of producer Graham Sutton’s favoured instruments in his Bark Psychosis days, still able to supply an almost innate delicate wistfulness. The album drifts out with ‘Swan’, over a treated piano that almost sounds as if coming from underwater, along with a gentle guitar line and semi-spoken vocals. The whole effect is mournful, yet oddly powerful too. None of ‘Vesta’ is ever less than highly melodic, and it is gleamingly produced by Sutton (described in one band interview as “Our George Martin”). Yet overall there somehow remains a sense of restraint, of a band holding back from unleashing the full power they might command. On ‘Girl Aware’, Castro sings “There is a storm blowing inside her”, and it’s a line suggestive of how Coldharbourstores’ music can be taken as either deliberately restrained or simply repressed. It could well have more impact if Castro did vocally express more of the storm and the rest of the band rose to match her. As it is, this album (named after the Roman goddess of hearth and home) is in the end a bit too cosy.

Track Listing:-
1 Castle
2 Remaining
3 Something You Do Not Know
4 Disenchantment
5 Champagne and Blood
6 Speak You Me
7 Girl Aware
8 Swan

Band Links:-

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Dearly Devoted (2021)
Sweetly jangling but flawed fourth album from London-based band Coldharbourstores
Wilderness (2017)

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