2012 has already shown itself to be a monumental year for music – we’ve had new sounds from across the musical spectrum and tours galore being announced, not to mention the sporting showcases over the summer and the resurfacing of legends of yore.
In the past fortnight alone, The XX, Two Door Cinema Club and The Vaccines slipped new discs into the charts, providing the latter with their first number one album. Cave Painting have their work cut out for them, then, as they wade into battle with the giants, wielding only a small cult following and a debut record. Will that be enough to make a mark on one of the most frenetic years in recent memory? The Brighton five-piece have had their share of fortune this year though, touring with the now explosive alt-J, and garnering a whole heap of approval. Preluded by the rickety cool of ‘So Calm’, the group now drop their first album.
‘Leaf’ shimmers into existence, surrounded by swirling ambience and reverberating feedback. Vocalist Adam Kane’s pitch pong proffers the first hooky tunes of the LP, and driving rhythmic forces wrap the whole package up in a neat little indie-pop package. It’s catchy, with a wonky rhythm, and it’s ever-so-slightly reminiscent of BBC’s ‘Shuffle’ in the way that it makes you want to groove along, but without quite being able to figure out why. ‘Gator’ is a kooky sliver of uplifting, relaxed electropop, with a pitched ostinato resonating underneath funky bass and an anthemic chorus which is just begging for stadium lights.
A lot has been said of the festival quality of Cave Painting – that their pretty little ditties are arena-bound platters of blazing choruses and well-produced “bigness”. Most of these claims are pretty much spot on. There is a line to follow through their music which leads you to huge crowds drunkenly swaying; there’s another line however, which keeps the group firmly rooted where they are now- packing out tiny clubs and playing to fervent rooms of fandom. There’s an innate breadth to their sound which allows for a variety of crowds to appreciate it in different ways – be it the drunk ‘n’ rowdy festivaliers, or the toe-tapping lurkers in the dark corners of some underground bar.
‘Simoleon’ heralds muted guitar plucks and sopping wet drums, layered behind Kane’s lengthy tribal vocals. There’s a sleek calm here, adding a touch of the psychedelic to their tried-and-true indie-pop. ‘Rio’ continues this theme, piling on sounds which could easily find a place on Disney’s Tarzan soundtrack. ‘Nickel’ again strengthens the psych element, infusing bruised vocals with a whirlpool of melodic guitars and stroppy bass.
This is a solid first effort from Cave Painting – there’s a rich canvas of sound, with minute elements which take a second play through or more to pick up on. They mix fragments of more easily identifiable genres to form a woozy and unique potion, straying from the template of the done-to-death guitar-rock revival and alleviating some of the electronica pains; there’s sincere emotion muddled in with the labyrinthine noises, making for a thoroughly enjoyable listen. Immerse yourself.