[Matador; 2011]

Combining the muddy, trudging methods of hardcore with the brisk airiness of synth-pop is a nice novelty. It works very well for, say, Sleigh Bells, among others. It’s not necessarily a revolutionary idea, but when used correctly it can create the sort of rare dichotomy that is as fascinating and satisfying as it thinks it is.

Currently using the method correctly is Matador artist Wesley Eisold, or Cold Cave. Eisold routinely makes matter of fact, utterly palatable electro pop that one might call impressive, but hardly biting. On his latest track, “The Great Pan is Dead,” however, he has grown the fangs of a god damned saber tooth. Sort of.

Eisold never really wears the skin that the immediacy of the track might suggest–but that’s a good thing. Working around his 80s pop earnestness with an almost metallic aggression of sound, “The Great Pan is Dead” builds a melodic wall of loudness, and basically kills it with kindness. It leaves this thickly layered carcass that Eisold kind of just dances on the whole time, happily toying with expectations in a weirdly charming way.

Endlessly hooky, but never lacking forward momentum, in the best way imaginable the track knows nothing of subtlety. It is a tuneful, remarkably loud piece of pop gold that blends the industrial nature of its sonic foundation with the hopelessly romantic wailing of its star attraction. “The Great Pan is Dead” gets it right in spite of itself, and is assuredly one of the best songs of the year.

Grade: 9/10