Cold Reading are back with the second of their planned conceptual three EPs, each connected to and infatuated with time and how we perceive it. Part 2: Present Tense is a set of four songs that bids the listener look inward and live in the moment. With a blend of indie rock and classic emo sensibilities as the tool kit to express this sentiment, the band have plenty to work with and make the most of it. If you find yourself longing for more indie rock that evokes the sound from a couple of decades ago, this EP and Cold Reading in general will no doubt appeal to you. Let’s dig in a bit.
The quiet opening of “Stay Here Now” is but briefly there before the double-time drumming chimes in and gives the song a bit of drive, leaning into some post-hardcore earmarks as well. Along with the sonic nostalgia, there is a light gaziness to the track, courtesy of the guitar effects and phrasing of the vocals. This echoes what I said when I wrote the stream premiere, namely that Cold Reading are able to find the balance between touchstones of the past and infusing their own ideas that expand on the established formulas.
That methodology continues in the sequel, “Through The Woods Pt. 2”, with its mid-tempo lilt and spacious composition. There’s something incredibly comforting about this song, and not only from the familiar textures – the spacious phrasing allows the song to sink into the pores. There’s also a general build from start to finish, and while the song never really redlines, it does provide a sense of intention that makes for a rewarding listen. As “Through The Woods Pt. 2” fades it makes way for the title track, which is my favorite on the EP.
The use of space becomes more evident as we move to “Present Tense”, reinforcing the meditative theme of the EP. This song feels, as it should, like the centerpiece of what Cold Reading are saying on this brief collection of songs. ‘What are we now/What are we waiting for?’ is the refrain that rings out again and again, urging the listener to look within and examine their motivations, inspirations, and potentially their own inactivity. While not every moment of Part 2: Present Tense hit me squarely, this is a message and meaning that I can fully support, and I think building around this concept is a worthy cause.
This is a brief affair that can come and go before you even know it, and if that isn’t the most meta analogy that I have made yet, I’d be surprised. There’s something about the execution and the singularity of the band’s vision that makes this little EP stand out. It also feels like something that you’d catch in the corner of your eye just on the edge of your periphery. It is the second act in Cold Reading’s planned trilogy, and I can’t wait to see and hear how they close things out in the future. For now, give this a listen and remember that time is an irreplaceable commodity.