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Album Review: Why Always by Caves

Caves release their third album, Always Why, on 28th April via Specialist Subject Records (UK), Yo Yo Records (EU) and Dead Broke Rekerds (US). Being split between the UK and USA has meant a change in songwriting style – now writing remotely via GarageBand demo exchanges. This new approach sees the band exploring a greater depth in sounds and expression than the straight forward pop punk of previous recordings. Lyrically the album’s still as personal as ever touching on the heartbreak of border crossings, queer love at 16 and coming to terms with bad relationship choices.

Produced by Peter Miles at Middle Farm Studios in rural Devon over the summer months. The recording captures their tight, fuzzed out pop punk akin to 90s favourites like The Breeders, Nirvana and Blue era Weezer.

Still recording as a duo, Lou Hanman (vocal/guitars) plays drums on the album, Caves retain their brand of instantaneous and personal punk on Always Why. With the band completed by Jonathan Minto (guitar/vocals) you’ll find this to be an immediate and likeable album, like previous efforts, it’s all a little rough around the edges – it isn’t perfect and it doesn’t always work, but it’s one of the most endearing and honest sounding records you’ll hear in 2017.

It’s become a trend of late to release short, sub 30-minute albums – especially within the punk / pop punk genres. The trend has seen bands go for quick, snappy bursts of punk fearing that they don’t have the substance to keep the listener past the 2 and half minute mark. Fortunately, Caves buck this trend – 13 tracks clocking in at just over 40 minutes – certainly not a long album, but what an album should be. Caves have no worries about keeping your attention, each track is a sumptuous slice of pop rock served up with enough crunchy punk riffs to sucker you in and thrill throughout.

‘Wait’, ‘Feather’, ‘America’ and ‘Wild Dad’ are fine examples of the drawn-out brand of pop rock that Caves revel in. A key characteristic of the new songwriting style, Caves don’t go for the jugular straight away – the songs can build and create an atmosphere or like on ‘Feather’ they can hit an early crescendo and excel in a world of feedback and wired experimentation. That’s not to say Caves are above snappy pop punk, ‘Way’ and ‘Understand’ are superb tracks – condensing and focusing the adrenaline of longer tracks into a neatly packaged 2 minutes.

With Always Why, Caves have produced an excellent pop rock album. It’s rough edges and lack of sheen make it an endearing and captivating listen. Whether it be the chaotic punk of ‘Filler’, the snappy ‘Need It Most’ or the quiet ‘Border’ you’ll be hooked at every junction.

AD Rating 7/10

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