Single Review: Thomas Cohen – Hazy Shades

By on Tuesday, 19th April 2016 at 12:00 pm

Thomas Cohen, probably most famous for being the former lead singer of S.C.U.M., is set to release his debut solo album in early May. Back in 2011, S.C.U.M. released their first and only full-length studio album, ‘Again Into Eyes’. The Southeast London art-rock band underwent a lengthy hiatus around a year following its release, before officially announcing their split in January 2013. Since the members of S.C.U.M. went their separate ways, Cohen has been working on his debut, ‘Bloom Forever’; his newest single ‘Hazy Shades’ has been released ahead of the LP.

Cohen’s life has been presented with both joy and tragedy since he started writing the album, from the birth of two sons to the sudden death of his wife Peaches Geldof in 2014. Following the tragedy, Cohen made the decision to return to writing and recording music, working on the rest of ‘Bloom Forever’ in Iceland. ‘Hazy Shades’ was the last song to be written before Cohen travelled to Reykjavik to complete the writing of the album. The single is just one piece of the story that makes up the forthcoming album, as the tracks in ‘Bloom Forever’ will be presented in chronological order of when they were written.

The video for ‘Hazy Shades’ was filmed in San Francisco, with Cohen decked out in vintage cowboy glory: seemingly a nod to the country-inspired sound of the single itself. Influenced by the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Judee Sill, Van Morrison and Jim Sullivan, Cohen taps into a musical legacy that might seem unusual for a 25-year-old bloke from London. It’s a departure for Cohen from S.C.U.M.’s shoegaze/synth sound; he seems to have branched out into new territory, and to his advantage. Whilst his unconventional influences do not stand out in an overwhelmingly obvious way, you can hear moments of country in the track, from the sliding drawl of guitars, to the soft, almost lazy drumbeat that can be heard in parts. But there are heavier, more intense moments too, with a thundering, echo of a guitar riff overlaid with Cohen’s melancholy vocals towards the end of the track.

The lyrics are stark in their simplicity, speaking to the range of emotions and feelings that can encompass one at any given moment: “even though the sun is coming out / hazy shades all come home”. Nothing is ever really black or white in Cohen’s world, and the song seems to argue instead that even though there are moments that seem bright, the darker moments will always appear again. Remarkably, the song is neither maudlin nor gloomy: there’s a sense of lightness to the track itself. Perhaps it’s the gentle lull of the percussion throughout most of the song, paired with the tender croon of Cohen’s vocals and the murmur of piano, but the music itself belies the potentially darker meaning behind the lyrics.

I didn’t think that I’d like this song, but ended up enjoying it more than expected, and found myself thinking less about the singer’s circumstances, and more about what it might mean in relation to my own life. As Cohen himself puts it, “I would hate for somebody to listen to the record and just think about me, you know? That’s not why you really make music. You’re making music for somebody else to emotionally respond to.“


‘Hazy Shades’ is out now, and Cohen’s forthcoming debut solo album ‘Bloom Forever’ will be out on the 6th of May on Stolen Recordings. Cohen has a number of tour dates set for next month, including a scheduled appearance at The Great Escape 2016 in Brighton.


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