Caveman - Caveman
Record Label: Fat Possum
Release Date: April 2, 2013
If a self-titled sophomore album is not indicative of how much the New York City indie quintet Caveman has grown since their 2011 debut CoCo Beware, then perhaps the music will do all the explaining.
Caveman opens with the brief albeit powerful "Strange to Suffer," a 70-second cut that is drenched in falsetto, layered harmonies and a haunting celestial ambience that is as much a preface as it is an album opener. But Caveman the album doesn't truly get rolling until the near-perfect "In the City," a sturdy and sweetly affecting meditation that's arguably one of the best of the year (don't trust me either, go ask Paste). For those that find kinship with "In the City," then take a breath and embrace this record without hesitance.
"Shut You Down," follows and pretty much sticks to the same formula: gauzy guitars, blankets of keys and synths and singer Michael Iwanusa's vocals. If "Shut You Down," is truly a rebuff there quite possibly aren't many nearly this pretty. Caveman have been labeled dream-pop by at least a few publications and that moniker seems most appropriate on the slow-building but highly rewarding "Where's the Time," which almost feels surreal, circular and luminescent in its execution.
The remaining two of the first half include "Chances," a sublime effort that is rewarding long after the first few listens and "Over My Head," a gently rolling orchestration that glides languorously over beds of cottony synths. Solacing and expertly produced, "Over My Head," is just one of many standouts on a disc that has few if any missteps.
Caveman kickstarts the second act with "Ankles," a synth-driven rumination that supports Iwanusa's obvious penchant for cinematic music. There's something spacious and tender about each passing second and while it lacks a robust chorus it more than makes up for it with its hypnotic textures. A tugging bass, cooing keys and lingering guitars help make it one of Caveman's most immediate offerings and arguably the most upfront.
Acoustic guitars enter the mix on the haunting and stark "I See You," ostensibly an album filler but one that could probably find favor on repeated listens. Caveman's closing triumvirate includes the slowly building "Never Want to Know," the driving and dramatic "The Big Push" and the 90-second prologue "Strange." Of the three it is hard to deny the grandeur, sweep and scope of the leave-it-all-on-the-table effort that is "The Big Push." Yet given that very statement, the melancholia of "Never Want to Know" seems to leave an imprint long after the disc has drawn to a close.
And it is that exact sentiment that makes Caveman such a generous listen. Anyone who heard CoCo Beware knew the band was capable of writing winning dream-pop songs, but this 12-song effort goes far beyond dream-pop and cements itself as one of 2013's most admirable and compelling releases.