Cold Years
A Different Life

The third studio album from the Aberdeen punk band, Cold Years, called A Different Life takes a hard look at life around the band, while still maintaining a worldly view of growing up in this era. Much like their breakthrough sophomore LP, Goodbye To Misery, this album features a great blend of a sound similar to Green Day, The Gaslight Anthem, and Social Distortion. As lead singer Ross Gordon shouts along with his bandmates on “Roll With It,” “I’m dead, ’cause I want a different life!,” it’s hard to not rally around his words of wanting change. Recorded at The Barber Shop Studios in New Jersey by producer Brett Romnes (Hot Mulligan, Boston Manor, The Movielife), the mindset of capitalizing on the best/most emphatic sections of their last record, mixed with a steady eye towards the future, leads to Cold Years continuing their momentum here on A Different Life.

Kicking off with the set with blazing speed on “Over,” Cold Years highlight what makes them one of the most thrilling punk bands to come out of the U.K. in quite some time. The speedy punk rock rounded out by the other band members of Louis Craighead (bass), Finlay Urquhart (guitar), and Jimmy Taylor (drums), lends itself well to the lyrical approach. On mid-tempo rockers like “Radio,” the young band put a stronger emphasis on the disdain of the world around them as Gordon mentions in the first verse of, “All the dread that I can’t shake off / All the things that I should let go of / Rotting in my bones / I smashed the screen on my telephone / My mind is running, am I getting old? / Counting down the days, when I will I leave this place behind?” The conflict of wanting to leave your hometown for greener pastures is appealing, but sometimes it’s difficult to find the right circumstances in our life.

The brooding rock of “Low” finds Cold Years painting with darker colors, much like the clouds rolling in for a storm. Early standout “Youth” rocks along with a steady beat from Jimmy Taylor behind the kit, as Gordon croons with veteran ease on a song about the years rolling by a lightning pace. The first ballad comes in the form of “Goodbye My Friend,” that accentuates the improvements in the band’s storytelling aspect of their songwriting. The band’s ability to convey a wide range of emotions through different tones in their music is an underrated trait for an artist, and they make it look effortless.

The back half kicks off in a way much like the opening track with “Choke” as Gordon laments, “9 to 5 just feels wasted on you / You drink a barrel and you burn through all your friends.” It’s a lyric that resonated with me since it’s easy to lose touch with the friends around us when only one person is making the effort to make those connections. “Fuck The Weather” is a Motown-esque mid-tempo track that finds Cold Years experimenting with three-part harmonies paired with their signature punk rock delivery. It helps break up some of the similar-sounding tracks, and does its job of staying in tune with their overall message of A Different Life.

The acoustic guitar-driven “Other Side” is a great example of a band staying true to their punk rock roots, while still adding new tools to their repertoire, to explore the limits and depths of their sound. The band gets back to their electric guitar approach on “Let Go” that picks up steam like a train steadily gaining momentum on the tracks. A rare piano-laced ballad of “Sick,” that gradually adds in more instruments as it develops, is another example of Cold Years taking calculated risks to further distance themselves from the punk rock “clutter” and remain one of the most interesting bands in this current wave. The album closer of “Die Tonight” plays out like a victory lap of sorts, as the band know how to exit stage right on just the right vibe. There’s plenty to enjoy on A Different Life, an album about growing up in these uncertain times and maintaining the key connections with the people that make life worth living.