Following the buzz from a stellar split with Gifts from Enola, Nevada-based Caravels’ debut full-length Lacuna is finally upon us. Brooding with tensive melodies and a shouted vocal slant, Lacuna is ten tracks of swirling, emotive post-hardcore that mixes equal parts contemporary and archived in the means of post-hard dabbed with thoughts of screamo and post-rock songwriting. And while the album doesn’t quite pop as much as you might hope, the seeping, brewing nature of Lacuna is more inclined to win you over more with each listen.
The titular opener sets the tonal and emotional bar for the record, in how we will hear both the instruments and vocals tug at us through this LP. Not necessarily technical or overly catchy, the mix of sparse melodies and striking swells in Caravels’ songwriting feels like a slowly rising river in its overtaking of your consciousness. “New Zealand” and “Sleep Talk” in particular carry this sentiment well, with the latter sneaking in some thoughtful kit-work to spice up the almost cyclical melodies engulfing your ears. “Ordinary Lives” might do the tension act the best though, as it gently tends us through light guitars and paced percussion on the way to some truly enjoyable peaks musically and lyrically. Add to this the slightly brash, shouted vocals lined with some quite poetic lines ripe with imagery (“Sleep Talk”) and self-reflection (“Hanging Off,” “Having Had & Lost Some Infinite Thing”), and Lacuna shows itself to be a rather layered creation that doesn’t quite bloom entirely on first listen.
And while such ideas are pulled off with an eerie hint of mysticism and a strong sense of identity, the few moments when the band goes full-tilt on their instruments resonate even stronger. Take the pulsing introduction of “Tangled,” which later bursts with distortion and off-kilter drums, the distortion and effects-laden bursts of “Hanging Off” or the mountainous apex of “Ordinary Lives.” Sure, they are good enough on their own, but working these bigger moments into the tapestries of tiding guitars without outweighing them in the process seems to be the call-to-arms for this record musically – and in that sense, Lacuna shines rather brightly.
My biggest qualm with this record though, and the reason why it is arguably not a first-listen gem, is that as you move from track to track the repetition of tones, patterns and songwriting fashion tends to blend the whole thing together. When listening to this in a single go, it was a little difficult at first to know what track I was listening to due to the fact that at times the whole approach just doesn’t vary much from track to track. Yes, there is power in an album feeling and sounding cohesive from front to back – but at first listen, this is almost a little too much even in the way the vocals are shaped.
But in its sum, Lacuna shows Caravels as a band that knows very much who they are as musicians. While the immediate impact of this record is not quite fully realized, there is something in the way these songs are put together that almost requires you to revisit them, even if only to understand the mystery in such a puzzle. In that sense, Caravels’ production of musically-inclined intrigue makes Lacuna an album worth getting lost in.