Caravels / Gifts from Enola - Well Worn [12-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Caravels / Gifts from Enola

Well Worn [12-inch] (2012)

Topshelf Records

Caravels' new ventures vary a bit from their old records, but don't abandon totally what they encompassed on their old EPs. On "Sagen Genesis," it's the same field they played on before--a not too cohesive melody but with that inherent knack of knowing just when to change the pace. They step up or step down in good accord and this violent feel is just the kind of varied sound that makes best for the post-hardcore sound. They again thrive off silky guitarwork over the spoken word of their lead, but on "Sagen" it's like a synthetic chorus of whales with the intricate solos and picking strung into the verses. It's soothing and they incorporate that smooth bassline they're accustomed to as they spark their usual the calm before the storm. It's reminiscent of, but still distinguishes from, their old hits such as "Dream Beaver," "Sixty Acres" and "Meat Wave." It's highly similar to recent Troubled Coast material and while at times, it seems that they're taking notes from Saetia, they hold their own well. Again, no doubt there will be comparisons to Bright Calm Blue, Touché Amoré and La Dispute, but this is one of the more coarse efforts out there.

It isn't a sound for those sick of the wave-type bands then. "Beer Pressure" again shows that Caravels matured in the sense that they blend much more slow, harmonic instrumentals into their music rather than their old, hard, fast, in-your-face material as seen on Floorboards and Earthling Sessions. It still is well noted that a lot of people have claimed to be tired of this screamo-speak being the new gospel and while they're right in being critical at times (and yes, this is on the heels of Troubled Coast's last seven-inch) it still isn't right to take away from the effort that Caravels put forth here.

It's the right mix of gruff ferocity and quelled structure in the musical arrangements that perfects that blend which many accuse the wave bands of trying to build their movement on. "Bone Voyage" is symptomatic of that slow/fast formula, and it's not a casualty. It just compounds that this band is pretty good at that change of pace in their songs while keeping that screamo coherence intact. Sometimes its broody, gloomy and too dense for its own good, but with these bands, it's better to be non-specific to that lumbering niche they're trying to carve. These little tune drops, building crescendos and slow bridges are the composition they utilize and if the wave is becoming cliched, then I'm still in. Well Worn puts forth a good temperament from Caravels and at the end, if I had to say what was their 2012 sound akin more to, I'd pick Earthling Sessions, but more refined.

Gifts from Enola represent a more stringent and harder (straightforward instrumental) feel to their songs. It's less cryptic and pretentious in the sense that they come at you with a more turbulent sound and let this speak much louder than spoken word. I get why this sound would be on such a split, yet I think the balance was slightly off. Not taking anything away from either band, the instrumental sound is decent and I guess a little variety is needed, but the latter half of this split I'd enjoy more on something like post-rock Deadhorse. I might be contradicting myself but I guess I have that biased stigma of a few bands I'd like to hear accompany Caravels on this split. "Angel Face" is more built on exquisite guitar work amongst that heavy rampant score. "Water Torture" isn't a bad way to end the split as again, it's a good teaser from both bands.