It’s hard not to get excited about something as unique and mesmerizing as a lathe-cut seven-inch. COOL’s latest offering, Best New Music, is cut into a square sheet of clear plastic, following a trend for the band of DIY-style physical releases. This one, put out by Yellow Plum Records, is a great example of an interesting alternative to traditional vinyl pressings, albeit one that is difficult to get a needle onto and suffers from a relatively thin sound as a result.
The four tracks, on the other hand, don’t have a single blemish on their beautiful production. Continuing in a theme of mixing uplifting art-rock a la frontman Adrian Teacher’s previous project, Apollo Ghosts, and COOL’s old-new funk sound, the 45 (which actually plays at 33 1/3) alternates between soul-searching tracks and discotheque anthems. Opener “Best New Track” may be cheekily named, but long-time Ghosts fans will experience serious nostalgia trips over its gorgeous guitar lines and Teacher’s melancholic vocal delivery. “Cool TV” and closer “I’m One of Them” are more steeped in retro vibes, with analog delays warbling over each hook and a thick, plucky bassline from Amanda Pezzutto cementing the short ditties.
What Best New Music emphasizes is COOL’s fantastic experimentation, moving away from the garage-rock of late Ghosts tracks and into other methods of creating upbeat and fun pop songs with serious backbone. “Weird Buzz” pulls off some great ’70s-pop guitar tapping in a way that doesn’t feel like a throwback or a reference—everything the trio pull off feels refreshing, even if the resources it’s mining are older than most of its audience. There’s something entirely intangible about COOL’s gracious approach to rock music, but it’s that hint of nostalgia at the back of your head that makes Best New Music so damn good.