Your average band will focus on one unique trait—an especially skilled guitarist or a strong vocalist, say—in its music and run with it for a debut album. Caveman’s debut album, CoCo Beware, is unique for another reason: The band shows off a variety of crowd-pleasing aspects. Four-part harmonies backing up lead singer Matt Iwanusa? Check. Booming drums on almost every track, lending a hypnotic rhythm to the proceedings? Check. Simple yet effective songwriting? Check and mate.
It’s that last one that serves as a sign of good things to come. On the album’s best track, “Great Life,” the band treats the listener with a clean and twinkling guitar, hammering percussion and a beautiful sentiment: “Great life to live/It’s all you have to give.” Repetition is used here as a weapon, as the track doesn’t stray from that formula except for some vocal harmonizing in the second half. It’s “simple yet effective” defined, giving a feeling and riding it out for four-and-a-half minutes.
Caveman is a band in the early stages of its development, having formed in Brooklyn less than two years ago, and as such the music is tinged with energy and experiments. There is a diversity of sounds, ranging from the mellow (“Great Life,” “Thankful,” “My Room,” “December 28th”) to the positively rocking, by this band’s standards (“Decide,” the spooky instrumental “Vampirer,” “My Time”).
“Old Friend,” another highlight from the record, also falls into that final category. Coming in off of the reverb ending “Vampirer,” the track starts off very “four horsemen of the apocalypse,” with an acoustic guitar chugging along behind the noise, before breaking off into a clean jam with a steady, solid beat. The lyrics are consistent with CoCo Beware’s themes of friendship and personal growth. The songs feel like the first days of fall, where you’re clinging to that last bit of summer warmth while eagerly anticipating the slower pace of a city being cooled. It’s stunning.
CoCo Beware is a short one, clocking in at under 36 minutes. However, that just adds to the aspect of easy listening present within the music itself. The songs are complexly simple, to use a nonsensical paradox. They present themselves as simple compositions, but the harmonies and instrumentation are anything but, using every band member to the fullest. It’s a testament to the members’ skills as song-crafters that it comes off feeling like an approachable listen. This is not an album that you will sit and analyze in the dark by yourself; I would venture to guess that it’s not supposed to be. This is an album for a car ride or for a late-night after party when the wine has flowed and everyone is feeling content. Caveman won’t harsh your buzz, man.