San Francisco band Cold Beat make their DFA debut with Mother, a collection of ten pop transmissions from Earth, 2020. Wound tight with an energy that ricochets from one song into the next, Mother was made while front person Hannah Lew (formerly of indie trio Grass Widow) was pregnant and considering the chaotic conditions of the world she was bringing a new human into. If we consider Mother an artistic style guide through space and time, the framework Cold Beat provide is overcast by design but focused in execution; locked-in drums and synths with choir-like melodies high above it all. "I found myself trying to describe our earth to a new human who had never been here," says Lew. "It was a bleak year to be pregnant, but I was simultaneously filled with so much love and hope at the same time. I remember feeling a sense of wanting to show my whole range of self to this new person I was about to meet. In past albums, I sometimes held my artistic self in an ethereal place, but I found myself wanting to be very much on this earth and grounded during the creation of this record." The A-side of Mother presents the facts as we perceive them, while the B-side accelerates into the uncertain. Each of the first five track titles is one evocative word: the synths on "Prism" slide against the motorik guitar riffs and the plaintive saxophone on "Paper" casts the Leonard Cohen-esque melody in a melancholy shadow; "Gloves" is a real mood, all drive. Everything begins to unfurl from there. "Will it be over if there’s no sound?" Lew wonders on album standout "Double Sided Mirror," and then ruminates, "it won’t be long until you find me in the beyond" on the more upbeat “Crimes.” The early architects of these sonic settings—Eurythmics, The Human League, Depeche Mode—act as touchstones and inspiration. One of the most prescient things Mother teaches is that existence will not be, and has not ever been, a solitary experience. "It's really the first album where the project felt more like a band," Lew says. "In a lot of ways, it feels like our first album." And though four LPs (released on Dark Entries and Lew's own label Crime On The Moon) precede this one, Mother is Cold Beat at their most concentrated and crystalline. It's an honest, forgiving, and ultimately optimistic team effort from a band busy being born, re-born and giving life.
7. Double Sided Mirror
10. Flat Earth