It’s been a bloody good year for punk rock. We’ve been treated to some truly outstanding records – Against Me!’s massive hit Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Cayetana’s incredible debut Nervous Like Me, the ridiculous yet wonderful 48-hour tape Mysterious Ways from Bangers, another great record from The Lawrence Arms… I really could go on. I could go on forever, and I probably will when it gets to my end of year list. And here’s another record that is 99% sure to make that list.
Caves have always been great at crafting big tunes, and Leaving is a short, sharp blast of pure punk rock joy. Their new 12″ is a shining example of what Caves are capable of, and an excellent follow-up to Homeward Bound. Like any great punk rock record, it starts out with an absolute banger. ‘Sad’ is a fast, thrashy affair, and effectively sets the tone for the rest of the record with grungy undertones and some truly great vocals from Lou. ‘Oh Antonio’, my favourite song on the record, follows on with rumbling bass and megaphoned vocals, and that’s just a sign of things to come. There are fantastically spidery guitar riffs taking the forefront, great singalong choruses – even without any gang vocals in sight – and razor-sharp songcraft. No song overstays its welcome, but every track leaves you wanting more. Finally, the record closes with ‘Sadder’ – two minutes and thirteen seconds of sheer WOAAAAAAAH. I’m not lying. The production’s a lot tighter than previous records, but Caves still haven’t lost that gleeful sense of reckless abandon. If anything, every hook punches harder. You get a much clearer sense of the rhythm, and it leaves a lot more room for experimentation.
Lyrically, it’s all pretty good too. Leaving is all about holding your ground, and ‘Anchor’ portrays this perfectly with nautical metaphors that playfully mess about with cliché. ‘Puddle’, with its 90s emo vibes, makes concrete cities seem prettier than they are. Title track ‘Leaving’ is so posi that it makes my cheeks hurt from smiling. Caves are great at tackling the little things that mean a lot, and this record is just more great reinforcement of that notion.
Leaving is pure punk perfection. Buy it for yourself for Christmas and then sneakily listen to it all throughout November because screw it, the nights are getting longer, the weather’s getting colder and you need something as joyful as this in your life.
4.5 out of 5 high fives!