Caves - Homeward Bound (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Homeward Bound (2011)

Specialist Subject

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. It doesn't really matter who said this and what they were thinking of but it is one of those sayings that so often can be applied to music/bands. Caves seem to have been aware of this old adage when writing and recording this, the band's debut album, and realised that their previous efforts have been of a standard and quality that doesn't need any major tinkering or changing. Well, actually, I'd imagine they didn't really give it much thought and just cracked on doing what they do, producing some great melodic punk rock songs that have a raw feel to them both in terms of the music and the vocals of Louise Hanman.

Earlier this year, Specialist Subject Records released a collection of Caves tracks and that CD quickly became a favourite of mine. Homeward Bound carries on, waving the crunchy punk-pop banner with no semblance of faltering in its flight, as song after song, what you get is that same formula of heartfelt delivery with a raw, raspy sound and a plethora of "whoa"s. The production on this album is the only real difference to that compilation, as it has a much more rough quality to it. There is no gloss or sheen added to what Caves produce–just a case of getting levels right rather than sanitizing the music into a neat, shiny little package.

This approach means that the whole album sounds like you're standing in front of the band in some small room as they assault you with 13 songs that have a primal, basic feel to them whilst maintaining a tuneful backbone on which the songs rest.

Whilst the general sound for the songs remains consistent, "Bad Weather" is an acoustic song with Louise sounding as if she is singing in a small room at a distance from the microphone. Even with this recording approach it's amazing how strong her voice comes across.

A lot of the songs include lyrics that are obviously of a personal nature given the use of "I" quite frequently. Those lyrics aren't going to blow you away, but who cares when they're delivered with such raw emotion, as Hanman tears at your ears with her voice. And that is another thing that makes this album so good–Louise Hanman's voice has such an earthy, unaffected quality to it, and although it seems to strain at times, it just seems to fit in so well with the music.

Finally, kudos to the band for naming the first track "________________" (I think I've spelled that correctly!).