Album Review: Caveman – Coco Beware

Through a shroud of hazy harmonies, Caveman offers a dose of wistfulness on their debut, Coco Beware. The relative newcomers sound like they’ve stepped out from the mellow, folk-rock shadow of yesterday but with some prominent, tribal-like drumming (“A Country’s King of Dreams”), vocals fit for a lullaby (“December 28th”), and a smirking, lazy-day vibe (“Old Friend”). These New Yorkers have concocted a tight 10-song debut best suited to the merry, yet weathered, post-Animal Collective era.

Their breezy melodies have rightfully gained them opening slots for ‘70s-influenced Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, as well as fellow genre-bending Brooklynites Here We Go Magic. Frontman Matthew Iwanusa’s layered vocals meet slow-burning pop sensibilities on “My Time”, while “Decide” finds him soaring sweetly on a timeless hook. (The Beach Boys influence is not lost.) Elsewhere, Caveman’s inventive instrumentation comes to light: “Easy Water” hypnotically sloshes forth as Iwanusa’s voice awakens ever so gently, and “Vampire” is a somber instrumental standout, relying on a hungry bass drum to drive it forward.

It’s also the key lead-in to “Old Friend”, which perfectly melds the slightly psych-tinged nostalgia with the band’s sharp guitar work and precise, but never forced, drum patterns. On the antisocial “My Room”, the thwack of the drumstick once again reinforces Caveman’s strengths — willingness to explore these tribal effects while embracing dreamy, chamber pop-esque harmonies. “Thankful”, for instance, rings out with hushed sighs and a beat that threatens to shake off slumping summer vibes.

Caveman are lucky enough to have slowly built a buzz over the short time the five-piece have been together, and on the strength of Coco Beware, it shouldn’t slow any time soon. In fact, it’s a perfect post-summer pick-me-up that’s hard not to listen to all the way through.

Essential Tracks: “Old Friend”, “Thankful”, and “A Country’s King of Dreams”


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