“I’m so eager to go back on stage,” says Beck Wood, spotlights in her eyes. “I miss it. I think I’ve found myself. I can see that I’ve changed, I'm more confident.” You could see it as the shows for Coves acclaimed debut album ‘Soft Friday’ reached its peak. The woman who’d vented her Nico-crisp relationship angst over modern garage psych pop classics was now spinning across theatre stages, finding her pop feet, becoming a star.
They’re a long way from Castle Grayskull now. That was the live-in studio that musical mastermind John Ridgard helped build in a disused office in Leamington Spa and where ‘Soft Friday’ was recorded over a year, Beck laying out a fresh failed romance in song from first flutter to final choke. Soon after its release they dismantled Castle Grayskull and left Leamington for London and the world, splitting their time between life in the capital and on-the-road adventures with the likes of St Vincent and The Raveonettes.
“The transition between Leamington and London,” Beck says of the themes that emerged for ‘Peel’, “how our life is now compared to then, the journey,fallouts between friends, the growth you have in life. We were on a rollercoaster of living the life of professional touring musicians and then going back to the day job.”
When their touring schedule wound up in March 2015, Beck ran into producer Cam Blackwood (George Ezra, London Grammar). Keen to work with the band, he took the home recordings that Beck and John had made during “red wine holidays” at John’s East London spare room studio to Studio Voltaire in Clapham and honed the pop side until it was as sharp as their psychedelic garage edge.
The result was a second album, completed in October 2015 and due for release on 1965 Records in March 2016 that’s cleaner, harder and just as fiery as ever. “I’ve developed into a new person but I’ve still got that passion,” Beck says of first single ‘Stormy’, released on 18th December. The track has her declaring “you see nothing but thunder in my stormy eyes” over a slab of prime Coves road trip Americana. “It’s a good transition song because it has elements of our old album but also elements of our new album.”
Fans of Beck’s savage snipes won’t be disappointed. The 60s disco garage tune ‘You’re Evil’ is aimed at “people that I used to know who shat on my dreams or were two faced”, while ‘I Don’t Care’ is a primal howl of misanthropy. “There’s always going to be an element of bitterness within the vocal,” says Beck, “that’s all I can sing.” But what happens when everything works out fine in the end? “When does anything work out fine? It’s never going to work out fine.”
The album isn’t an all-out bitch-fest, though. “It’s split between fury and misery,” Beck explains. For instance, the grandiose space rocker ‘I’m Not Here’ is, according to John, “a real depression song; when the wheels fall off and the plans come apart at the seams.” ‘To The Sea’ is their ‘Everyday Is Like Sunday’, a musical trip to Whitley Bay - “the saddest place I’ve ever been”, says John - while ‘ Tripping Over Lust’ finds Beck telling an abusive partner “why don’t you go cry me a sea so I can sail away on it”. Malicious melancholy at its most barbed.
Tales of the unexpected all round, and they’re not stopping there. Alongside their second record, Coves intend to start a messy, scratchy side project, recording an album in one night onto a tape recorder. “We’re only going to sing about stuff that’s in the studio,” Beck says. “We’re going to do just one gig,” says John, “we’ll just have Walkmans and all the songs will be on tapes and you’ll take it in turns to put the tape in and then we will shout the words over the top.”
That’s Coves - in the stars, reaching for the gutter.