Caretaker, from first listen, sound like they had a good influence from Norma Jean, which puts them along the post-hardcore genre. However, they also have this melodic sound to them, with an atmosphere that can be both creepy and upbeat. This puts them in a class of their own, which is something not seen often.
The songs on this album vary from under three minutes to over thirteen minutes, and while that can turn away a good deal of people, Caretaker have done an excellent job of pulling you in with their music. You just don’t realize that thirteen minutes have gone by. The band also put emphasis on their bass, which other bands in the post-hardcore scene fail to do, and they do it excellently. If anyone has listened to Rage Against the Machine, they know that that band would be nothing without their bass – Caretaker are similar. The opening to their track Martinet is a great example; the opening bass groove draws you in, grabs you, and holds you for the duration of the album.
Some listeners may be concerned that the vocals don’t seem to be focused. I think that’s great, because the instrumentals do such a great job of getting you to bob your head, tap your feet, sometimes even bang your head, that it doesn’t exactly make a huge impact. The other thing is that the two instrumental tracks are much weaker than the rest, and the intro to the album, Thousand Yard Stare, is a rather repetitive piece that seemingly doesn’t belong. The second, Providence, is a much better piece, though it would be much better off being the intro section to the following track on the album.
Even including those small flaws, Caretaker are amazing at what they do. Sure, their music may not be complex or difficult to play, but they do an excellent job of changing moods within songs, and pulling you in so that you end up daydreaming in a wonderland. One moment could be groovy with the bass, and a very well pulled off transition into something melodic or heavy will have you drawn in even more. The very last track of the album, The Upper Air, finishes off the album with a thirteen minute epic that features everything. There’s mood and atmosphere changes, alongside well executed transitions, bass grooves and soft guitar interludes. It would be petty of me to simply say the best song on the album, but the track really does do everything well and you find yourself so into the song, you don’t feel like those thirteen minutes are dragged out at all. The same can be said for their other lengthy ones – they’re just so well done.
Fans of the early post-hardcore scene will enjoy this. People who are turned away by the scream-type vocals seen in bands like Eyes Set to Kill and early Norma Jean might not be a fan, but those who enjoy that trance-like feeling while listening to their music will have a hard time finding a better album than this to do so, and I envy anyone who is able to catch these guys live.
4 out of 5 high fives!