Reviews Caves Betterment

Caves

Betterment

I’d call Caves frantic punk rock, if not for the title track on Betterment actually being a casual acoustic affair. Other than that song, though, the eleven songs on the UK’s band’s latest offering are non-stop energy, complemented by vocal trade-offs, relentless percussion, and a whole lot of screaming. The press sheet drops the term “urgent,” and it’s precisely that, taking only 26 minutes for the record as a whole. If not for that song, the band never eases off the gas pedal.

There are mid-tempo songs, like “<3 Koala” but, even there, the drumming has an anxiety that permeates the song, even while Lou Hanman sings “You’re changing me for the better” at an easier pace. As a whole, the record alternates between these anxious yet arguably mid-tempo jams and melodic, upbeat, and chorus-friendly punk. For a reference point, I will mention RVIVR and that likely won’t be their only mention in this review. Caves has a strong melodic core, with “whoa-oh” style choruses minus the literal “whoa-oh.” It’s sing-a-long at heart with vocal back-ups to pick up the elongated notes and trade-offs in between choruses that keep the pace moving. The vocal trades also serve a more technical point: to mask some range issues with both Hanman and Jonathon Minto on their singing. Punks not being the greatest singers is old hat, and the trade-offs do a good job of keeping the songs focused on the energy without stepping off course. It can get a bit wavering and off-key but that doesn’t reduce the cathartic factor one bit. When the album lets up on the aforementioned title track, it’s a welcome breather and closing to Side A (or so I assume on the digital copy I received for review). It quickly gets its energetic legs back with “Run.”

“Forevero” is one of the better songs off Betterment, with the chord work followed by some nice guitar leads that push the melody into new terrain and, yes, those vocal choruses where it all culminates. The interplay here between guitar and bass gives a nice energy and it matches the vocal exchanges well. For all the activity in the song, it’s only 1:45 before the lead to “Work” shifts the focus onto a new and also frantic melody. The earlier title track’s bare bones and intimate, hushed feel is well placed in sharing the softer side of the band before the record’s energy takes a runaway, downhill velocity-gain onward, picking up and nearing the final big crash in the voice-shredding “Ender.”

7.3 / 10Loren
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Bombed out

2013

7.3 / 10

7.3 / 10

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