Bristol outfit Caves are by now a household name on the UK punk scene, and not by luck or coincidence either. A hardworking band with exceptional songwriting talent and live shows full of action and energy have brought them where they are today. ‘Leaving’ is their third studio album, and whilst it retains some of the hooks and pop punk sensibilities of previous efforts it also has a darker and more reflective side.
The band have recently switched to a two-piece following the departure of drummer David Brent, leaving singer/guitarist Lou Hanman and bassist Jonathan Minto to take up the slack. But the tenacious Hanman has met the challenge head-on by taking up the sticks herself in the recording studio, whilst on the road they have received support from the tub-thumpers friends in Bangers, Young Livers and We Came Out Like Tigers.
Despite being titled ‘Sad’ the album opener showcases Hanman’s buoyant vocals which sound so full of joy and enthusiasm they can make your heart leap on their own. There are many other elements to ‘Leaving’ though, and whilst the sounds of The Descendants and Weezer can be heard in their brighter moments, on tracks like ‘Oh Antonio’ there is a more indie-grunge feel that borrows more from the Smashing Pumpkins and other more rock orientated influences.
‘Anchor’ is perhaps the album’s finest song, with great big unashamed pop punk hooks that are absolutely irresistible and Hanman hollering “as the tide comes in I’m like a sinking ship but the waves are telling me life’s not over yet.“ Title track ‘Leaving’ is a more poignant moment as it deals with the fact that Hanman will leave for the States next year to spend life with her partner, but also how this was only possible thanks to the introduction of same sex marriage laws – a progressive act in an otherwise increasingly divided world.
There are undeniably a few tracks on this release that have a certain element of filler to them. The less structured, more jammed out parts are a welcome variety but sometimes lose their way and the track descends into a fuzz of feedback and noise – and maybe not in the kind of pleasing fashion that the band intended. But despite this gripe ‘Leaving’, like everything else the band has released, is still well worth your time. Let’s hope Caves stay together in one form or another for some time to come.
‘Leaving’ by Caves is out now on Specialist Subject Records.
Words by Alex Phelan (@listen_to_alex)