'Cult Favourites Coldharbourstores exhale their second album in three years. Vesta... is a sweet throwback to trip-hop and dream-pop, enhanced greatly by Lucy Castro's voice.'
'Once again here I sit fingers poised on keyboards ready for the tunes to commence, and yes I am faced once again with the sound of dream pop, but lo and behold this is not your average everyday dream pop but a rarified form of dream pop, a much cooler form of dream pop, so much so it is in fact ice dream pop. In fact it is not dream pop at all but pop that is indeed dreamy; it’s like being caressed by the love child of Bob Stanley and Elizabeth Frazer; it’s like Saint Etienne after graduating from a Swiss finishing school. Chiming guitars electric piano’s and drumbeats collide in a mass of pop seduction, a celebration of all that is missing from today’s daytime radio stations. But like all good pop music it has a dark undertow, an intelligence; music made by those who know that pop music is the highest form of art. Quite wonderful.'
'Firmly ensconced within the realms of dream-pop, this established London quartet has garnered praise for its wholesome output thus far. Mind you, it took the band three years into its life to conjure up a debut-album and a further fourteen to follow it up with 2016's Wilderness. Thankfully, we're back on a three-year-cycle with this third full-length opus. Produced with Bark Psychosis stalwart Graham Sutton and dressed in a V23-style sleeve by Martin Andersen, Vesta continues on from Wilderness with added sparkle and atmospherics thrown in. Opener Castle sets the tone for the following 30-plus minutes with grandiose synths, crystalline beats and soaring vocals, a mix that recalls Sarah McLachlan, Single Gun Theory and later darkwavers Marnie, Marsheaux and M83 offshoot White Sea. The glorious single Disenchantment is perhaps the poppiest standout here, while the moody Champagne and Blood and Speak You Me certainly possess a certain amount of '80s-era 4AD or The Chameleons. There is little to quibble about with Vesta - it's chilly presence won't leave you out in the cold. 7/10'
'Enraptured Records must be in their twenty-fifth or twenty-sixth year now, and although things seem to have gone a little quiet on their front over the last few years, Coldharbourstores are still flying the flag for them and are back after a mere three years with their follow-up to 2016’s Wilderness. With Graham Sutton back behind the desk again, it is not so much a question of business as usual but pushing that familiar sound into new corners, shining their gentle light on the subject of love and all that it might entail. Dubby bass and an almost trip-hoppy rhythm introduce “Castle”, and the shimmering guitar entwines around Lucy Castro‘s caramel vocal. There is a romantic kind of feel to the proceedings, and drifting in the air is the lightest of drones that unfurl like a morning mist on a sunny day as the wispy guitar becomes more strident. The feel of tall palm trees and lazy blue skies is evoked and continues into “Remaining”, as Lucy sings “I was always in love with you”. There is something positive and upbeat about the messages relayed here, and the fuzz guitar just helps to add to the texture. Graham Sutton’s production is pretty subtle over the course of the album, but there are points here and there where you can’t help but recognise his mark. The second half of “Champagne & Blood” has the kind of space and texture that we might remember from Bark Psychosis‘s Hex, but the build up to it is an almost discordant clash of piano notes against an Air Supply synth backing. It feels like quite a departure, in the same way that the bass-led clash of “Girl Aware” stands out from the more serene tracks that surround it. There is a familiarity in some of the guitar sounds, echoes of 4AD in “Something You Do Not Know”, but its distant beats and use of space leave a kind of smoky atmosphere for Lucy’s languid vocal to move around, and the Spanish guitar and simple amorphous beat of “Speak You Me” does a similar thing. Final track “Swan” is a gentle comedown for an album that is full of subtle surprises and sweet little touches. “I used to be a swan”, Lucy sings as the band couches her elegant tones in a gossamer bed of synth and guitar — and then the album is over. It is a quiet gem that hopefully will signal a return to regular duties both for the band and Enraptured.'
The Sunday Experience
'Remind me again, what’s not to love about this one. Released just ahead of their incoming ‘Vesta’ full length for Enraptured, this is Coldharbourstores with ‘Disenchantment’. Stirred with a sublime sleek shimmering, the anything but ‘Disenchantment’ glides light weighted upon a caressing 80’s pristine pop yearn whose dove tailing chime sprays radiantly, prettily pouting dream locked posies of tingling feel good entrancement in the form of shyly retiring cosmic love notes both irresistible and adorable n’ just a touch disarming upon first encounter. Touched with the kind of quietly refined majesty that you’ll usually find attaching to those brooding noir flavoured tones escaping from the Scandinavian music scene, ‘Swan’ is a pre teaser herald... as seductively sweet serene a track as you’ll hear all year...be rest assured that this softly unfurling gem is primed to woo and win your affections when it finally appears March time, a woodland hymnal delicately swirling in the stilled silence, its caressing folk mysticism sighed by a sleekly spectral rippling riff refrain, arresting in a word.'
'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... '
'Produced by Graham Sutton formerly of avant legends Bark Psychosis, Coldharbourstore’s Wilderness has been an astonishing 12 years in its gestation and eventual release... It has been worth the wait. It’s not as if music’s timeline moves in anything but circles today, so the delay doesn’t present an issue. This is the music of yesternow. Opener 'Sightless' sets the tone - none of the sleepiness that sometimes came with the neo-psychedelic haze of shoegaze. This is all “eyes wide open”, musically and lyrically, full of romantic expectancy and the possibility of imminent sunbursts. This sense of lucidity is exacerbated by Scott Heim’s spoken word section, somewhere between a rap and a diary reading. On 'The Antidote', the sequencers swell, the guitars squall as the emotional weather threatens to turn. 'Cost You Dear' is more bitter chocolate fare as its title implies, but still limpid and glistening. “Marker” is still more caustic but even as the mood turns, the colours still flow, the layers build, there’s pleasure in the pain.'Kissing' is among the album’s standouts, from its clattering, claptrap rhythm sections, like someone knocking frantically at the door while a couple are in a clinch, to the eerie, bass male vocals which shadow Castro’s like a stalker or a persistent memory. Then there is 'Broken & Bad'’s bullrush shimmer of guitars, as vivid a reminder of the beauty of Bark Psychosis’s beauty as the album offers, a last moment of anxiety as Castro casts her gaze upward on busy skies. 'Genie', however, is a happy ending; “your eyes are alive with love”, a rainbow of instrumentation as Castro’s vocals ascend to the sort of contentment enjoyed by the likes of Lamb and Björk.'
'There’s a captivating depth and complexity about the music of Coldharbourstores that really
pulls you in. Reference points range from the Cocteaus and Saint Etienne to Beach House,
and there’s a distinct indie sensibility here that’s cleverly elevated by the interjection of
textured synthesised heft and colour (see wonderful opener ‘Sightless,’ and ‘The Antidote’)...
a worthy successor to their acclaimed 2002 debut'
‘It’s been 14 years since London’s Coldharbourstores released their debut, More Than The Other, but it doesn’t take long in the company of this follow-up before time starts to seem like a tedious bourgeois concept. Mainly produced by Graham Sutton of Bark Psychosis, Wilderness’s dream-pop airiness is propelled by an electronic undertow, Lucy Castro’s voice adding off-kilter sweetness. Over eight tracks, they can sound both oddly antique (Cost You Dear) and modern: Kissing bears traces of Broadcast and Young Marble Giants, while Genie sounds like Rufus Wainwright being digested by Bowery Electric. Best, however, is Sightless, where author Scott Heim recites the lyrics in the style of Michael Stipe on Out Of Time’s Belong.
Listen To: Sightless / Kissing / Genie’'
‘Wilderness steers an elegant course between Bjork-like experimentalism and Goldfrapp’s filmic qualities…the album ends with ‘Genie’, which is a shimmering, floating beauty…the eight track offering may seem a little slight to Coldharbourstores’ devoted cult audience, but hey, they’re back.’
'After 14 years away, Coldharbourstores return with eight tracks of luscious indietronica,
deftly brushed by the hand of shoegaze and with their sense of ruminative melancholia intact.
A marvellous production job from Graham Sutton (Bark Psychosis, East India Youth) allows the band space to breathe amidst the Cocteaus-esque shimmer of opener Sightless, but it’s new vocalist Lucy Castro who seals the deal. Whether soaring and searching (Genie) or pitchshifted
and mysterious (Kissing), she gives character and colour to David Read and
Michael McCabe’s shifting washes of melody and texture.
Unlikely as it is to bust them out of the indie ghetto, Coldharbourstores’ unexpected return
is a very lovely thing indeed.'
'Wilderness' is the sort of glossy, credible alt-pop album that some musicians spend their entire
lives attempting to perfect. First track 'Sightless' is a woozy, swooning dreampop anthem, the
synths and guitars bringing the ethereal atmospherics as vocalist Lucy Castro's evocative tones tell
one story, and novelist and guest performer Scott Heim provides his own spoken word version of
events…using differing mix techniques over the almost six minutes of 'The Antidote', a crashing wall
of sound anthem one minute and a smoothly ambient soundscape the next. Coldharbourstores
make this sound reasonably effortless, as they do with the soporific lullaby that is 'Cost You Dear',
the guitar based spatiality of 'Broken & Bad', the rainy day whimsy of 'Marker' and lastly, the
swirling minimalist epic that is the album's title track. I don't think I can recommend 'Wilderness'
highly enough, an album that is likely destined to feature in a few of the 'best of 2017' end of year
‘First outing in 15 years for mysterious, London based-based quartet, Wilderness is a logical step for the group, honing their aesthetic (post-4AD pop with glistening electronic touches), and finding intimate rapture in the peak moments of their carefully crafted songs…on ‘Genie’, Lucy Castro’s voice is flooded, ready to burst with joy…there’s plenty of uncommon beauty here’
'Wilderness has the sound and feel of a very serious album, and Graham Sutton's production has the precision to match, Kissing could lead a listener deep into Pan's Labyrinth. That cinematic feel continues throughout, with each composition dense and multilayered...Genie conjures up a filmscape with it's mysterious ambience...there's plenty to entice the listener here...'
'Although the band appears perhaps languid and certainly sober, the singer, Lucy Castro, with the voice of a little angel, performs in contrast to this. Yet song by song the spectrum of 'Wilderness' expands and 'Kissing' brings the first great surprise on the album, as if tidal waves have started to rock the boat decisively. The title track includes moments of peaceful Americana twang beauty and country-styled singing, which while not quite yodelling is close to it.
Graham Sutton perfectly manages to twist and turn dreamscape non-melodies; melting them into recognisable tunes with a quite esoteric narrative. The follow-up to 2002's 'More Than The Other' has been released on Enraptured and fourteen years later 'Wilderness' sounds like a haven of tranquility. The closing song 'Genie' - again a breath of fresh air - made me ponder: it is best listened to this album on the bank of a river. In spite of its low-key modesty, one may find an unpolished gem.'
The Sunday Experience
'Utterly divine, a sweetly trembling love noted flotilla demurred and daubed delicately in oceanic sprays and spirited away lost to enchantment, it marks a long period of silence following acclaim adorned upon their 2002 debut ‘More Than The Other’. ‘Genie’ the parting track from the set comes served upon frost speckled arrangements aglowed and arrested in chiming corteges whose ethereally whisper kissed touch perfectly fills the gap left by the passing of the Cocteau Twins. Say no more.'
'Genie is imbued with remarkable grace, a song that contains a real sense of poetry.'
‘It's been 15 years since the last album from the London-based outfit and despite some line-up changes and a huge advance in time for any band, Coldharbourstores have finally delivered. Produced by Bark Psychosis' Graham Sutton, Wilderness has sonic chops and an ethereal atmosphere that resembles Goldfrapp, 4AD's swirling synth darlings Insides and even Factory's later-era Section 25 in places - basically we're talking late '80s/early '90s synth-pop with some contemporary gloss and dark melodies. The best of these tunes include the opening Sightless, the shimmering Kissing, the introspective and melancholic Broken and Bad and the recent video-single Genie which brings things to a sweet conclusion…’
Whisperin & Hollerin’
‘…The album as a whole sounds like a bit of a love letter and that gives it a good sense of unity…'Genie' is a good album closer…'
'...filled with dreamy, post-rock sounds accentuated by the superb vocals of Lucy Castro...topped off by the splendid production of Graham Sutton. Filled with surreal soundscapes...the experimental sounding rock album is currently being heralded as one of the year's best indy rock albums. With its myriad of postmodern rock influences looming over the sonic landscape, it’s plain to see that there’s plenty of worthy sonic treasure here...'
‘Vesta has that classic gorgeous bright sound, somehow ambient and exciting all at once’
'... 7/10... their brand of electronica shimmers and glistens and is an elegant follow-up to their last album Wilderness'
‘… In celebration of Rocket Girl’s 20th anniversary, … one of the finest packages we’ve ever seen, featuring a 16-track CD, a collectible flexi disc… another (standard) 7”… and a 70-page hardcover book recounting the label’s illustrious history. Over the past two decades, Rocket Girl has released and/or reissued material by the cream of the international indie scene representing nearly every genre you can imagine… Coldharbourstores glistening post-rock guitarscapes pop in for ‘Seven Minutes’ (actually, 6:40!) ...'
'Various Artists – Rocket Girl 20... The compilation that has been released for the twentieth anniversary contains nineteen snapshots from right across the twenty-year spectrum… It starts a bit of a trip down memory lane; the post-funk soundtrack and street poetry of Kirk Lake‘s “Go As Adorno”, with its slap bass and tinkling piano, sits next to Coldharbourstores‘ strung-out, Lush-reminiscent bliss of “Seven Minutes”, that somehow defines the label aesthetic.
'…Waywords and Meansigns is now on its third turn of setting Finnegans Wake to music. The project, aims to make the notoriously esoteric novel more accessible to present-day readers while also functioning as a hybrid between an audiobook and musical adaptation…this most recent rendering focuses on passages that are a mere page or two in length. Despite the reduction in focus, the approaches the project’s contributors take to the passages shows little decrease in creativity…from a truly trippy recitation backed by field recordings and dementedly mirthful piano (care of the Mercury Rev and August Wells-featuring Old Fiends), to icy android readings (Schneider ™), a straightforward narration backed by blips, bangs and simple beats (Peter Chrisp and the box sets), the borderline ambient “Question 5” by Coldharbourstores, to the eerie folk of Jon Wahl. Whatever the meaning, Waywords and Meansigns should have both readers and listeners agreeing that the well of inspiration springing from Joyce’s words is thrillingly infinite.'
‘Sounding tired, hungry & stuck in an unhappy relationship
‘All that matters now’ sounds, like Nick Drake & his ancestors – quite lovely’
‘Fans of Pullman & To Rococo Rot should snap up this single, Rippling gently with campfire acoustics & criss-crossing between Ry Cooder territory & Tortoise’s playroom, Superb - 5/5’
Philadelphia Weekly News
‘An utterly singular and mysterious group, light on information but long in pop smarts. Beguiling, simple and sad, this is one to watch out for. ’
A.P (Alternative Press)
‘Hypnotic acoustic ambience highlighted by Graham Sutton’s glistening production – perfect for those long winter nights spent making out while snowed in the house with no phone or television’
‘Mysterious & filmic, marked by aquatic vibraphone and peals of ambient trumpet, sounding like some long-overlooked Angelo Badalamenti composition’
'Plutôt que de se laisser éblouir par ces soleils latins, les Anglais de Coldharbourstorespréfèrent compter leurs lacets et les gouttes d'eau qui tombent dessus. Immobile et frisquet, leur A day gone by dégage pourtant cette chaleur vacillante autrefois distillee par les disques enregistres a la bougie chez Sarah Records.'
'Rather than being dazzled by these Latin suns, the English Coldharbourstores prefer to count their laces and the drops of water falling on them. Immobile and chilly, their A day gone by nevertheless releases the flickering heat distilled by records recorded at the candle of Sarah Records.'
‘coldharbourstores underline their hit band potential’
‘like an ambient take on The Strands, Hayden or Sparklehorse’s last album ‘more than the other’
often finds itself very close to beautiful, such as the moment two and a half minutes into “Long Ago” when the drums kick in and the soundstage widens into cinemascope. ‘
‘Ethereal’s back: this time it’s pertinent! As if transported by Tardis back to the 4AD offices of the mid-Eighties, this debut resurrects the relic-tastic, swooning sounds of indie’s loose jumpered cathedral-hopping age’
‘...gentle folk-tinged intimacy...’
‘After a couple of well received but hush hush singles, Coldharbourstores get around to their debut album proper. The 'Stores are yet another one of those great outfits that can recycle heartbreak and turn it into a record that can lift you out of your own. With a great live feel, courtesy of Producer Graham Sutton(Bark Psychosis), 'More than the other' manages to sound both detached and immediate. The likes of 'Short Stay' and 'No Such Thing' suggest that you'd have to wear waders to cope with the outpouring of emotion if you ever saw them live. The ghostly feel of the Cocteau Twins may glide across most of the songs but when was that ever a bad thing?
‘While undeniably rough around the edges live, the London trio foster enough canny introspection to make them noteworthy, purveyors of slo-core atmospherics, their take on spaced acoustic guitars & country simplicity wouldn’t sound misplaced in Will Oldham’s oeuvre, markedly on the single ‘All that matters now’’
Comes with a Smile
‘More quintessentially English treats from East London’s hippest label. Coldharbourstores present ten all-new songs on their debut full-length and they’re certainly playing to their strengths; piano and guitar led laments, unhurried, bordering on the languorous, with a nod to the dreamy balladry of early Mojave 3’
‘This, the band’s Debut single produced by Randall Nieman of Fuxa is a cut above the rest - Acoustic guitars & piano complement each other in what promises to be a low-key start to an interesting career, they cite the Wedding Present amongst their influences, but their own music seems more delicate than that’
‘Listening to the latest in the seasonal compilation series from Darla Records, while driving home from work the other day, snow started to fall during the song "Buck" by the London band Coldharbourstores. The sublime pop song met the serenity and beauty of the snow in a way that's hard to describe - that's when I realized how well this compilation matches its season’
Reviews of Chamber Music
" inspired...shall surely be remembered a hundred years hence"
"should be heralded as one of the great interpretative works"
"A real treat for any fan of music and literature.4/5"
"Thumbs up .Joyce would have approved"
"The wait was well worth it."
"A quality collection of tunes"
75 OR LESS
"Chamber Music works brilliantly 4/5"
"The songs sound great"
NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO
"Beautiful Work! 9/10"
"the most dazzling and fun piece of Eng Lit-related anything I've come across for ages"