This post-punk trio’s music is at once catchy, dark, joyful, menacing, and damn-well just in time for long summer drives at full volume.
30 May 2022 | James Porteous | Clipper Music
Deep in View is the debut album from former Ought members Tim Darcy (vocals, guitar) and Ben Stidworthy (bass) alongside Evan Cartwright (drums).
Titled after philosopher Alan Watts’ anthology of the same name, the record is built on a foundation of elegant guitar grooves and knotty rhythms, offering commentary on modern life and technology through curious lyrical vignettes, where quotidian objects and scenes are never just as they seem.
Deep In View is equally a product of introspective songwriting as it is a consideration of the abstract landmarks of an increasingly media-mediated society. It also presents the most concise and melodic songs Darcy and Stidworthy have written to date.
“I love when I find a record that has many different angles from which it can be approached,” Darcy explains. The band’s affinity for polysemy is first-and-foremost a chord struck in the name Cola, which most obviously is the fizzy beverage that Darcy deadpans is ”bound by laws older than man to poison most ordinary life on earth” in closing track “Landers”, but also can be traced back to a term in poetics as well as an acronym about social security that refers to “Cost of Living Adjustment”.
Cola is also about drinking in the endless crispness of a streamlined (and streamed) world, and the often unsettling sense of satisfaction and emptiness that subsequently sets in. Fundamentally, this record is about passion and what happens to a person when they find themselves increasingly encountering a passionless landscape of consumption.
This peeling back of layers is integral to both Cola’s mindset as well as their worldview, which despite a claustrophobic time in the making sees them joyfully exploring new realms as musicians.
Cola started collaborating in fall 2019 when Darcy and Stidworthy, both formerly of Ought, reached out to their friend Cartwright, who they had frequently met on the road while he was drumming with various other projects.
“It wasn’t the post-Ought band right off the bat,” Darcy says, “we really just took time to enjoy the process of collaborating and writing songs together.” The band’s organic chemistry solidified quickly after a few sessions of jamming in-person.
Then, as the pandemic began, they were forced to decamp and write songs separately. Working in solitude ended up becoming a “defining color as well as a barrier” to the album, says Darcy. He notes that he wrote the lyrics to “Fulton Park” as a “dream landscape”, a sort of alternative to the frustration and depression he was experiencing at the time.
The imposed isolation of writing at home led Stidworthy (who helped compose the album’s guitar parts and plays the piano on “Landers”) to “create little worlds with the songs”. The keen brushstrokes of all three members combined feels languidly tactile, replete with profound meaning that is almost archeological in its sense of economy and personal touch.
This sense of relaxed exploration could only occur because of the mutual trust between the trio: Stidworthy adds, “I could go really far in cultivating a mood for a demo and send it to them and know that it could only improve.”
Meanwhile, Cartwright (who also plays guitar on the project and coded Supercollider synth parts in the studio), found that he was subliminally incorporating drum ideas and patterns from when he first started playing as a teen, embedded deep in his muscle memory.
The resulting record delights in its aversion to superficiality. Although Darcy’s characteristically wry voice remains front-and-center, shifting from decisive to distressed and detached, his lyrical invocations remain only the first key to a much more intricate universe of sound and longing. Individual tracks often feel like small revelations, and each element contributes to a streamlined and yet poetically expansive set of meanings, as the rhythms of the punchy and exuberant guitar parts, urgent basslines, and unexpected drum patterns all tangle with each other in an elegant dance.
Much greater than the sum of its parts, Deep in View is an album of artful and energetic post-punk that sparks novel interpretations with every listen, like an object that takes on new shape with each angle from which you hold it.
“I love when I find a record that has many different angles from which it can be approached,” Darcy explains.
released May 20, 2022
Written by Tim Darcy & Ben Stidworthy
Supercollider, Guitar (Blank Curtain) & Drums by Evan Cartwright
Guitar, Vocals and Lyrics by Tim Darcy
Bass, Guitar & Keys by Ben Stidworthy
Recorded by Valentin Ignat
Mixed by Gabe Wax
Mastered By Harris Newman
Artwork & Layouts by Katrijn Oelbrandt
20 May 2022 | Chris Gee | Exclaim!
Along with the unceremonious announcement of the end of beloved Montreal post-punk band Ought in November 2021, the band’s vocalist-guitarist Tim Darcy and bassist Ben Stidworthy also stated that they had formed new band called Cola with U.S. Girls/Weather Station drummer Evan Cartwright.
While Ought packed it in after a widely celebrated run of three compelling albums, Darcy and Stidworthy are clearly fizzing with new ideas that have found a home with Cola.
The three-piece’s first album, Deep in View, comes fully formed with a little bit of swagger and a willingness to lean into their natural instinct for melody.
Compared to Ought’s sprawling abandon and explosive spontaneity, Cola keep it more succinct and lock in their adrenaline right from the get-go.
A propulsive drumbeat with a craggy guitar riff starts off in many of Deep in View‘s songs like “Blank Curtain” and “Degree,” immediately actuating their frantic energy with machine-like precision.
On Deep in View, all three members are seemingly pushed to the foreground, each meticulously carving out their own part that intertwines with one another in a deeply satisfying groove, non-fussy but incredibly tactile.
Stidworthy’s seductive basslines often anchor the songs, pulsating and lightly stretching out the elastic skin of each number.
This is especially true on “So Excited” and “At Pace,” where his nimble bass twirls and dances around Darcy’s abstract narrative language as he laments social media’s consumerist mindset, “See it to want it, see it to need it / Doesn’t matter as long as you do it in sight,” on the latter song.
Fans of Ought will immediately recognize Darcy’s nasal drawl and his plainspoken way of enunciating his words, making his mundane observations vivid and relatable. Deep in View explores society’s lack of focus and attention against a blurred backdrop of compulsive internet drivel.
Darcy tunes out the endless scrolling and swiping and divides our collective anxiety into more manageable bites. His mindfulness comes through on tracks such as “Water Table,” articulating “Last long enough to go extinct, just long enough to overthink / Don’t worry about losing our way home, I have that technology, right?” overtop a skittish Cartwright drum pattern that skips like an irregular heartbeat.
On album closer “Landers,” Darcy slowly speaks his random thoughts over grand, graceful piano strokes, like a poet in solitude at the end of the night in a smoky bar, as he states, “The last word out of my mouth is the cushion on which it all lands.”
Cola make it all seem effortless to create perfectly catchy post-punk tunes, incorporating their punchy instrumentals with casual social commentary and calming meditative meanings. (Next Door)
The announcement of the disbandment of the local post-punk band Ought came in November, but in truth, the band had already called it quits in 2018.
On top of that, longtime collaborators Tim Darcy and Ben Stidworthy were already jamming with multi-instrumentalist/drummer Evan Cartwright of U.S. Girls and the Weather Station back in 2019, on a project that would eventually earn the name Cola (an acronym that could stand for “Cost Of Living Adjustment”) and produce a debut album called Deep in View.
“We just didn’t publicly announce anything, really until we made this record,” says Darcy over a Zoom call. “I think part of that was like kind of an old school sentiment of not feeling a need to and the label asked us to not announce anything for a while. So for a lot of people, it was new news. And for us, it had been something that had been years at that point.”
So what started as a stripped-down open D songwriting session with a CR-78 drum machine soon became a full album and new band after Darcy and Stidworthy were finally able to jam with Cartwright.
“We wanted to see how far we could stretch our compositions with just drums, one guitar, one bass, and one voice,” Darcy says.
Deep in View, which was released last Friday, is a welcome new sound that refreshes the past Ought post-punk vibe and utilizes Darcy, Stidworthy and Cartwright to their fullest potentials. The overall lyrical theme touches on the notion of being trapped in a dystopic society not so far into the future. It also has to do with the superficial connection that we as a society have with technology, a connection that was exacerbated by the pandemic’s periods of forced isolation.
As a three-piece, Cola was constantly trying to refine their sound and make sure the composition of each piece was something that could be played with three people in a room.
“I feel like this record, we kind of shook off a lot of the nervousness and jitters that existed a bit with Ought,” says Stidworthy on the same Zoom call. “We also liked making sure that the mood of each track was not identifiably upbeat and happy or downbeat and sad, but that there was always an ambiguity. The ambiguity kind of made it interesting.”
That ambiguity Stidworthy is refrerring to is heard immediately in Deep in View’s opening track “Blank Curtain,” a droney white noise guitar and grooving bass complemented by a steady drumbeat and Darcy’s detached, omniscient vocal approach. In Cola, Darcy’s lyrics seem way more introspective than on much of Oughts previous albums.
“I think in Ought I was more of a frontperson, and with Cola I view this as more of a post-punk songwriter record, which is refreshing,” Darcy says.
The name Deep in View is the same as an anthology of philosopher Alan Watts, someone Darcy would listen to frequently throughout the first part of the pandemic.
“I would go for a run and there’s this one podcast that compiles seemingly hundreds of his Berkeley lectures and it wasn’t like a one-to-one thing of these being my inspiration for the songs, but there was something very introspective about them,” he says.
Darcy and Stidworthy also love titles that can hold different meanings.
“So it’s going deep within but also like being somehow deep and in view; like being seen and revealing at the same time. And there is a fair bit of contemplation on technology as well.”
Cola is playing a show with local psych rock wizards the Besnard Lakes and Vancouver’s art punks Blessed as part of the upcoming Suoni per il Popolo Festival on June 18. They will then embark on a major U.S. and U.K. tour.
“We’ve only played two shows so far,” says Stidworthy. “So we’re eager to be in a room with people again and hope they enjoy the new Cola sound.” ■