Monday, 9 May 2011

Caves - Collection

It's impossible for me to talk about this band without comparing them to The Measure (SA). Lauren Measure has talked about how much she's a fan of this band and when I first encountered them in an underground London bowling alley I was wearing a Measure (SA) shirt that the lead singer talked to me about when I bought a shirt and 7" off them. It's not just a set of trite coincidences that equate these bands in my mind though, they do both play a similar sort of scratchy melancholy-tinged pop-punk with female vocals in the Discount tradition.

They're a very different sort of female vocals though. Lauren Measure's voice works because it's this almost light and airy thing which seems incongrous in the way it's far more melodious than the music around it and it sort of ducks and dives through the thrashy-pop that surrounds it, struggling to emerge on top. Louise Hanman's vocals in Caves are a different beast entirely, while searching for a word to properly sum them up I kept coming up with 'monotonous' which just really sounds like a criticism but I don't mean it as one. I'm trying to get to the idea that while they're incapable of the intricacies you get in the The Measure (SA), they're far more powerful in a way. They don't work as a counterpoint to the music, they power forward, dragging the music behind them in their wake. They're properly shouty in the way that a good punk vocalist can be, strident and exciting, turning its technical limitations into its emotional strength.

Like I said, the music seems to follow the vocals, and in that way again it's less complex in its structure than the The Measure (SA), they don't like to let a song run around through different styles with slow-intros building into bigger angrier sounds, or faking endings only to stomp back into action. Caves prefer to hit a certain sweet spot and work it, repeating a couple of lines of lyrics over the same riff, grinding out a little repetitive groove and eeking all the tension and meaning out of that simple little refrain. It's like a more complex less explicit take on the Herman's Hermits/Judy is a Punk announcement "Second verse, same as the first!" This album is a really enjoyable listen and perfect proof that while two bands can appear to be doing the same sort of thing, the way they approach it and execute it is completely different.

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