reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
In 2013, Saskatoon-based band Caves released an EP called Young & Dumb. Four years and one release later, the used-to-be solo project and current pop band is back with Young Adult Contemporary — a matured, though still playfully restless record with a spine of sleepy melodies and jangly guitar lines.
Young Adult Contemporary finds its charge in juxtaposition. The mono-drawl of the vocals is often placed against upbeat rhythms and hazy compositions. “Health” pulls layers together for a hopeful mood as the lyrics describe decay and aging. “Better” has a clean guitar line that is interrupted by an interval of chaos in the final third before rolling back into the melody.
While this crossing of wires keeps the tracks sparking, there is an inherent dreaminess and surreality to the misty soundscapes that Caves creates. “Rude Ruin” and “Deep Beige” both find a lullaby cadence, but also evoke complicated emotional moments. “Rude Ruin” has lyrics that describe a sensation of being trapped, while “Deep Beige” is a saccharine love song that ends on the surprisingly relatable note: “And I’m so fried”.
The highlight of Young Adult Contemporary comes with “Love Mooch”, the longest and most complex track on the EP. “Love Mooch” is immediately kicky, and the bass finds a smooth melody for the guitars to dance around. The lyrics are strings of ideas that almost connect, but primarily create a sense of dreamy thoughtfulness. “Sleepwalking sarcastically through another tired theme / I’m selling all my dreams at the grand re-opening” the song opens, then later reflects, “I know it contradicts so maybe don’t think about it.”
Showing growth and an awareness of the complexity of their task, Caves has created a selection of tracks that don’t shy from conflict and embrace both the delicate and the frightening aspects of being young and alive. Young Adult Contemporary, indeed.
Top Track: “Love Mooch”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)