Album Reviews

Caveman – Caveman

on April 03, 2013, 12:00am
caveman s/t D-
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Caveman allegedly gave birth to the songs that would become their sophomore record in a barn lit by Christmas lights in New Hampshire. “We’d all sit in this one room together and one by one we’d all go into the bathroom and record ourselves making the most psycho noises possible,” said frontman Matthew Iwanusa. Whatever the story’s truth, that psychosis landed nowhere near Caveman, whose palette is as familiar as the myth of finding one’s sound in New England isolation.

While the band’s debut CoCo Beware was a guitar record augmented by synths, Caveman lets analog electronics fill more of the space. The album starts with Fleet Foxes coos, evaporates into War on Drugs haze, plods through Radiohead territory, echoes The Antlers’ Undersea EP, and, on “Shut You Down” and “Ankles”, even settles into a couple of Tears for Fears grooves. The atmosphere is moodier, but the melodies aren’t. The lyrics are the same barely-there genericisms that were more or less forgivable on Caveman’s debut.

CoCo Beware cleverly changed up its rules, pulling startling hooks out of scrappy verses with an impeccable sense of melody. But because Caveman simmers at the same murky tempo for 45 minutes, even the melodies start to lose their sweetness. It’s only on “I See You”, when the electronics shrink to a distant murmur, that Iwanusa’s earthy tenor bares its vulnerability. Everywhere else, he’s just the top layer on a pile of by-the-book synth-rock.

As they turn their focus away from guitars, Caveman crash right into the problems that plague too much guitar rock: a lack of dynamics or surprises, a blurry identity, and a surfeit of Radiohead runoff.

Essential Tracks: “I See You”

4 comments

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Will Ruck
May 25, 2013 at 3:09 am

I love this album so much. One of my faves of the year for sure. Don’t understand this review at all. Everything you say isn’t working….is working so well for me.

Will Ruck
May 25, 2013 at 3:10 am

And such a short review. Give us a little more. This band got so screwed up the butt with this. They deserve better.

Cacharles
April 8, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Yeah, Phil’s right. It’s a bit hypocritical to write this album off as generic when this review could be passed onto 100’s of other albums with a few name switches. I think the album works great, especially in the middle where it turns superdupersonic. yeah

Phil
April 4, 2013 at 6:33 pm

this is a lazy review- the meat of it peppered with easy references to other bands. that should be reserved for facebook status updates, but unfortunately is commonplace in music ‘criticism’. can’t figure out what upsets the writer so much- can’t be 5 people devoting their time to making music, could it? the horror.

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