That it took Caravels six years to release a full-length album is somewhat hard to believe. But in many ways, Lacuna is a case of right place, right time. For starters, the local quintet’s style of music—atmospheric, doomy post-rock with punk aggression and raw vocals—has bubbled to the top of the underground, thanks to neo-screamo kindred spirits Touché Amoré, La Dispute and Caravels’ new Topshelf Records labelmates, Pianos Become the Teeth.
But more than that, Lacuna is an album made by a band that’s taken the time to hone its songwriting and define its creative focus. While certainly energetic—the band recorded all 10 songs live, during a marathon overnight studio session—the record is also meticulous, arranged to maximize dynamic contrast and emotional impact. Guitarists Dillon Shines and Matt Frantom unleash lockstep minor-chord gloom ridged with melody (“Sleep Talk”), coated in metallic heft (the Baroness-like “Hanging Off”) or imbued with poignant restraint (the instrumental “Twin”). The thick sonic roars that swirl through “Hundred Years” like belches of factory smoke even bear a passing resemblance to The Cure circa Pornography.
Drummer George Foskaris and bassist Cory Van Cleef cut through Lacuna’s murk with propulsive, lively rhythms, adding to—but not overpowering—the rest of the music. Singer Mike Roeslein takes the same blending-in approach; only snatches of his shouted, parched-throat vocals are easy to decipher. The phrases that do emerge convey searing anguish, so much so that by the time the album ends with “Dog Days”—a desperate song that veers between noise avalanches and tension-filled wistful restraint—exhortations like “I never want to wait again” and “But I tried” are downright agonizing.
Dense in all the right ways—and challenging to absorb—Lacuna stands tall among its peers.