Part of Cold Foamers’ charm lies in their ability to confuse. The Philadelphia-via-Montclair, NJ band’s 2014 debut LP, All Cold Everything (recorded and produced by Alex G), saw them incorporating a tremendous range of sounds—sweeping across shoegaze, folk, and ’90s alt-rock influences at a moment’s notice. True to character, after announcing a breakup, the group shot Musketball, recorded by Scotty Leitch, into the world for a mere 24 hours before taking it down. Now they’ve come back together, and Orchid Tapes’ Warren Hildebrand has since mastered the EP. It proves more cohesive over its five tracks than the full-length, without eschewing the group’s special gift for range.
Hearing Musketball is like diving headlong into a fever dream—dazed, at times disturbing, its transitions jarring—with the potential to leave you reeling once it’s over. After a shock of drums and layers of big bending guitars, vocalist Cameron Kennon opens with the hushed line, “Inside or out, pick one out right now,” as though warning us that the experience of listening in itself is a trip down the rabbit hole. Some sweet moments that hearken to Arthur Russell’s country tunes bob up against dizzying electronic outros (“Kirby”), and vocal manipulation abounds. The lyrics taken together often read like non-sequiturs; each line is loaded, and since it can be hard to get a handle on what Kennon is saying at a given time, when a clear phrase pokes through it’s doubly affecting, like on “Don’t”, when he sings, “Don’t feel / don’t feel / don’t feel human.” There’s tenderness in his tone, but eventually the bright melodic drift is overtaken by a chilling, half-human shapeshifting voice. Turns like this from clean guitar rock into messier, eerier territory lend the record the unsettled emotive hue that makes listening so rewarding.
Musketball is out today, self-released on Cold Foamers’ Bandcamp. You can stream it in full below.