"I’ve seen hell in the mirror of heaven,” Cold Cave’s Wesley Eisold sings on “Nothing Is True but You.” “Tasted poison in the fountain of youth.” Buoyed by spectral keys and drum machine beats that wouldn’t sound out of place on a house track, it’s one of the high points on You & Me & Infinity, Cold Cave’s latest EP.
The four songs on You & Me & Infinity are a culmination of everything the band’s done before. The pop songwriting muscles Eisold flexed on 2011’s goth masterpiece Cherish the Light Years are still in fine form on the title track, while the band’s more minimal, New Order-loving early work on albums like 2009’s Love Comes Close shines on “Glory” and “My Heart Is Immortal.”
You & Me & Infinity doesn’t just stand out as a refinement of the band’s sound — it’s also the first “true” record they’ve released in seven years.
Formed as a solo project in 2007, Cold Cave was an opportunity for Eisold (a singer for punk and hardcore groups American Nightmare & Some Girls) to embrace his inner Dave Gahan. Trading in throat-shredding howls and hardcore guitars for a gothic croon and chilly synths, Eisold became one of the biggest goth stars dark music had seen in years.
Cold Cave faced a crossroads after releasing Cherish the Light Years. The LP was a big leap forward for the band, proving that Eisold could write anthems that would sound just as good in an arena as they would in a dingy club. With its more polished production and expansive sound, Cherish could have been the start of Cold Cave’s world-conquering phase.
Instead, Eisold decided to retrench.
While reports circulated that Cold Cave was working on a follow-up album called Sunflower, it has yet to see the light of day. Eisold continued to tour, putting on stirring shows that were augmented with evocative video projection. But he did something unusual for someone of his stature: He opted out of the album release cycle.
Rather than continue to participate in the record-release-tour cycle that most bands are locked in, Cold Cave became a singles outfit. They would release one-off tracks and eventually a compilation of non-album tracks called Full Cold Moon, but no full-length “proper” albums.
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And while conventional wisdom would say that transitioning from an album to a singles band is folly, Cold Cave stuck the landing. Their fan base continued to swell. And the singles the band were dropping off felt momentous and significant because they weren’t attached to any larger work. A one-off song can feel like it contains an entire musical universe of possibilities when it isn’t connected to anything else.
When Eisold isn’t touring with Cold Cave, he runs his own publishing imprint, Heartworm Press. In addition to releasing Cold Cave records through Heartworm, Eisold also publishes original literature from contemporary authors and reprinted classics like Richard Brautigan’s Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt. He’s also released musical collaborations through the imprint, like Rebellion Is Over, a three-song cassette Eisold recorded with members of Black Rain and occult/music legend Genesis Breyer P-Orridge. Working with an artist of P-Orridge’s status makes perfect sense for Eisold: Genesis is the kind of restless and decadent polymath that Eisold is shaping up to be.
After years of singles, You & Me & Infinity could be the band dropping a hint that bigger things are coming. If it’s another longplayer that puts us in a dark, sensual mood like Love Comes Close or Cherish the Light Years, it can’t come out soon enough.
Cold Cave is playing on Wednesday, June 27, at Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue. Tickets are $15-$18 at ticketfly.com.