This Bristol, UK punk-pop trio are often compared to bands such as Discount and Lemuria and it’s no surprise why. They play a brand of punk that is infused with pop, lacks overly hard edges (not a criticism) and all are/were fronted by a female. In the case of Caves, the female is Louise Hanman, who also plays guitar, backed up by a particularly tight rhythm section of Dave Brent on drums and Jonathan Minto on bass.
I’m not sure how others view Caves in respect to the two aforementioned bands, but in all honesty I much prefer what the Bristolians are producing to either of those bands. Six of the eight tracks are culled from various releases that the band has been involved in and brings them together for ease of quickness in accessing some sort of musical reference to the band, with two unreleased tracks added for good measure.
Opening with “200 Miles”, you immediately get a feel for what Caves are about—up-tempo punk-pop with a thick rhythm section that drives the songs along whilst Hanman plays guitar whilst adding her wonderful vocals to the mix. Lyrically, there is nothing challenging here, with a fairly minimalist approach along with some repetition within songs, but this doesn't detract from the catchiness of the songs and actually makes it easier to learn the words to sing along whilst listening. All of the above is what makes this band/release such a joy to listen to.
The second track, “Fell Apart” starts off with a riff that is so close to the opening of Samiam’s “She Found You” that even after half a dozen plays I’m still going off on a tangent slightly into that song before bringing myself back into line.
“New Orleans” shows a slightly slower and more relaxed side of Caves and this works well without breaking up the flow of the album; rather, it seems like a natural interlude or short-lived change of gears that fits in perfectly.
I think Collection's best tracks are its bookends, with “200 Miles” at one end and the marvellous “Torn It Down” at the other, both fully representative of what Caves are capable of and hopefully the sign of what is to come in the future. Saying that, there are no throwaway songs here, which is always a possibility on a compilation as it appears that Caves have effective quality control in place—or just consistently write/arrange good songs.
At eight tracks long this album doesn't actually seem that short when listening to it, but I am looking forward to the day when Caves release a proper full-length release, as well as the day when I get to see them play live (surely they want a trip to Plymouth or will I have to venture up the line?). Definitely a contender for my top ten releases of the year.