For a band that fits so snugly into the cubbyhole of beach pop, Caveman sure is restless to break out. The Brooklyn quintet’s debut, CoCoBeware, doesn’t fundamentally expand on what beach-pop groups like Best Coast and Real Estate have accomplished over the past couple years—namely, baking batches of languid jangle with torpid, sun-stoned vibes. What the album does, though, is dig a deep, dark hole in the sand, and let the tide rush in to fill it.
Too often, though, that tide results in a shapeless sogginess. On a few tracks—particularly the eerie instrumental “Vampirer” and the majestic opener “A Country’s King Of Dreams”—frontman Matthew Iwanusa and crew are able to thrillingly channel murky echoes and cavernous frequencies that ooze across beach pop’s lo-fi party line. But texture isn’t enough to carry the album, especially when the beautiful gloom drains away to reveal drab, disposable Shins rehashes like “Decide” and “Thankful.”
On the disc’ ethereal closer, “My Room,” Caveman reaches further back for inspiration, although it looks to a wholly predictable muse: Brian Wilson. The nod to The Beach Boys’ “In My Room” is blatant, and it makes Iwanusa’s potentially emotional sentiment “I don’t like children / I don’t like people / To come to my room” sound like a hollow exercise in hero-worship. As pleasantly promising as CoCo Beware is, Caveman has yet to move past that phase, or to fully harness the alluring darkness at its heart.