Thursday, 9 January 2014

Caves - Betterment

This album starts with silence, longer than usual, then you hear it, the sounds of a band walking into a studio and setting themselves up, the little creaks and shuffles before they get stuck in. Then they begin figuring out a riff, this slightly bent and battered thing that they lock down and then mirror in doubletime and the vocals kick in: "I don't care! I don't care! Go fuck yourself." That's this band at their best, casually direct lyrically, soaring vocally, ramshackle and runaway musically.

Caves have that straining, that repetitive distended skid dragged forward by the dynamic bellow of the vox, that slap against the music, rather than playing with them. Everything aches, everything is shot in deep and held just long enough to break upon the fringes of discomfort.

Caves play a bit like a less burnished RVIVR, moving with a similar pop-punk cascade, bits of brightness amongst the dust. Fortunately they avoid the go-nowhere momentum-stealing plodders of the RVIVR album, but they do fall victim to another classic pop-punk misstep: acoustic songs. ACOUSTIC. I've come to see acoustic songs on punk albums the same way as skits on hip-hop albums, sometimes okay, often skippable, colouring the album's aural texture, as a rule more bearable when they're about crime rather than fucking. Here at least it's pleasingly awkward, retaining a certain sharpness, but acoustic songs just feel like a naked play for feeling that this album doesn't need.

Theyre's so much already here, in the fuzzrumble and ghostcalls on <3 Koala or Rubino's nervy tumbledown energy, the vocals intercutting desperate/snotty. The crashing up-ended love song of Build Against, "Sometimes, sometimes leaving is hard." The bluntness of Babyccino ("Feelings, no-one cares about your feelings/No-one cares when you need to make a change") and it's shivering feedback runout. The wallop of Ender, which Belushis its acoustic intro to bits and gets huge. It's an album of messily built music, full of gravelly bass and slippery sweet guitar lines, solidly stated emotions run aground, pain dealt with, softer more perfect moments embraced when they can be, punk rock reaching forward, towards betterment.



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