Review: Caves- Always Why (Specialist Subject/ Yo Yo)

Posted: June 11, 2017 in Reviews

So, on their third full-length Always Why, is this more of the same from Caves? Well, yes, and no. On the one hand, the sound on the record is still by and large in the band’s classic fuzzy, catchy, poppy punk style. Vocalist/guitarist (also drummer on this one) Lou and Bassist Jonathan are still doing their thing. The vocals remain passionate and heart-on-sleeve, with lyrics as intimate as ever. On the other hand, Caves have given the songs more room to breathe on Always Why. There is still a frantic nature to Caves’ sound at times, but they now seem to be in less of a rush to blitz their way through the album as they were on 2013’s Betterment. The more spacious style lends itself more to indie-punk than straight-up pop-punk, and allows Caves’ melodies to emerge to a greater extent. I mean, they have always been catchy, but on Always Why, the hooks are more reminiscent of Weezer or Superchunk than pop-punk per se (there is a noticeable reduction in ‘woah-ohs’ on this one!).

I mean, the band that Caves still remind me the most of is RVIVR, I guess. The at-times swirling lead guitars (check out, “Wild Dad” or “America”), the ‘boy-girl’ dual/alternating vocals, the bombastic choruses and the gritty production all call to mind the DIY Long-Island-ers. Caves totally have their own thing going on though and the hooks on Always Why can match anyone in the current punk scene. I really think they have gone beyond on this one with the quality of the choruses. Stand-outs for me are the stop-start, slow-loud “Wait”, reminiscent of Weezer or mid-era Green Day; the intensely personal tale of queer love “16” or the classic Caves sound of “America”. There is a sense that Caves are the ‘reliable one’ in the UK’s punk scene (no bad thing in itself), but actually, delve back into their back catalogue and you realise their gradual evolution; on Always Why, a sense of change shouldn’t be a huge shock considering that the two band members now live an ocean apart (one in the UK, one in the US) and this record was written remotely via GarageBand. Despite all that, Caves remain one of the most impressive and consistent punk/pop-punk bands in the UK, with Always Why probably their best full-length thus far.

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