Two years after their debut album Deep in View, Canadian art-punk trio are back with their second album, The Gloss. Across 10 tracks, the album explores themes of regaining balance and happiness in the search for deeper meaning. Opening track ‘Tracing Hallmarks’ sets the scene, a bright tune with thudding drums and a steady bassline which settles into a nice groove. Frontman Tim Darcy’s sprechgesang vocal delivery still features but not as heavily as it did in his previous project, Ought.

For those not familiar, Ought was Darcy’s former project of, a critically acclaimed post-punk band, who released three albums across their 10 year stint. After they split in 2021, Darcy announced he was forming Cola, alongside ex-Ought member and bassist Ben Stidworthy and drummer Evan Cartwright, of U.S Girls.

Lyrically, Darcy’s writing goes from strength to strength, strongly influenced by the poetry of the late David Berman (of Silver Jews and Purple Mountains), with abstract lyrics like “I fetishize an ancient mind/To forget my albatross,” on Albatross. Combined with Darcy’s unique delivery, often devoid of emotion, it’s difficult to tell whether he’s being sardonic or genuine.

Throughout the record, we see the band wearing their krautrock influence on their sleeve, from the motorik rhythm of Bell Wheel’ to the angular riff of ‘Key’s Down If You Stay’, an album highlight.  The album closes with the winding and wonderful ‘Bitter Melon’. A deeply hypnotic track lasting a little over six minutes in length. Darcy’s polyrhythmic guitar playing and Ben Stidworthy’s slow, rumbling bass take centre-stage alongside Cartwright’s crashing cymbals. It’s also where the album gets its name, as Darcy sings “I’m up again/never was night owl/studying,the gloss.”

Overall, The Gloss is a considered sophomore record, brimming with energy, using sparse arrangements to their strength. They’ve honed their sound and the result is a treat for the ears.

Cola: The Gloss – Out 14th June 2024 (Fire Talk Records)

– Pallor Tricks (Official Music Video) (