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The Cave Singers
Welcome Joy Meryl Trussler , August 25th, 2009 09:28

Pretty Girls Make Graves. Derek Fudesco lies in one for a while, then tires of it, and tunnels with fingernails, till he emerges a Cave Singer. This band completely overrides all that deeply ingrained Blair Witch/Sleepy Hollow coding. Forgetfear, it commands, goliveinthewoods. Overhearing this soulful, soft-glowing folk, with its restrained punk pulse twitching the drums, would make any cave seem inviting.

There's probably a divide to be made there, between two poles of good music: there's music that succeeds by discomfiting you entirely, and music that makes you feel safe. Welcome Joy is undeniably the latter, however they accomplish it. Something about the way 'Beach House' runs from and returns to its root note like a lost dog found, wagging swathes of high-reverb guitar from side to side. And yes something about that voice, that manages to evoke every old radio song that ever made you exalt quietly to yourself in the back seat: the 'Maggie May' croak, the 'It Ain't Me Babe' heartbroke warble, even some 'Born in the USA' jubilance, if you're that way inclined.

But some aren't, of course, and so this album won't suit neophiles, novophiles or anyone in the Filofax of hardcore, naturally — it's best covered by that phrase generally attributed to good kisses: soft but firm. Touchpoints include Bowerbirds, Deer Tick, and maybe Bon Iver, if Bon Iver would just drink a coffee once in a while. But if you want the closest neighbour, of course, seek the band's debut, Invitation Songs: it's a slightly smaller, more mystical affair, but with those same timbres — the improvement in the second album, then, being the newfound catchiness of each melody, resolute as goosegrass. The rollicking beat and driving harmonica of 'Leap' is insistent that it's gonna be with you the whole damn way, chasing you into the sunlight. It's feel-good. Tentatively so, but so.

And lest you think all this safety/comfort talk implies the lyrical quality of a self-help book, I clarify: their aims are pure, man, and the comfort is collateral. They just want "to dance in the doldrums of each new day / to dance in the doldrums of common pain" ('Summer Light'). Feel free to watch, mutter "fucking hippies", and break into a smile regardless.

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