Review Summary: With Antenna, Cave In explores new ground, fully embracing a unique and mature sound.
With Antenna, Cave In has found a mature sound that is shaped by clever hooks and epic manipulation of generic formulas that develop continuous interest in both advanced and novice listeners. Stephen Brodsky and Co. have found an alternative approach to shape their songs with traditional designs and patterns that are bold, colorful, and triumphant. Although the group’s catalogue has shifted throughout the years, Cave In has managed to portray a concrete development in their approach to emotional outputs with this release. The growth portrayed in Jupiter has been completely embraced and the aggressive designs of their debut are nonexistent. Antenna finds Cave In dwelling in almost adult territory, perhaps sailing away from the angry days of their younger years.
The musicians are in tune with one another and it is apparent that time on the road and in the studio has given Cave In a chance to mold a developed bond between the members of the band. The instruments find a much more subtle display than any of the group’s previous work and with this method comes a soothing appeal for each respective tune. Album opener “Stained Silver,” while shooting off with thumping drums, immediately settles to a classic sing along verse and a chorus that imbeds itself into the brain of the listener with thick, powerful notes from the throat of Brodsky. Although the vocals take precedence over the majority of the track and the album, and well, pretty much Cave In’s entire discography as a whole, they are ever so fitting, subtle when necessary, and overbearing only when appropriate. While the guitars soar with repeated strums and huge chords, this gives the group an opportunity to shine as a unit, as opposed to a decent rock band with an incredible singer. The vocals continue to roar in such a fashion throughout the majority of the album, yet never taking the entire spotlight off what Antenna is attempting to achieve. The drums on the album take a traditional approach to keeping up with the string section’s repetitious, yet rich chord progressions, and the bass rumbles in the background through the majority of Antenna. Essentially the result of this combination is a flow of vivid emotions, free of the boundaries of solos, passionate wailing, and weak attempts to engage listeners by tacking together elements that hardly coagulate.
Since not one member of the band stands out over the other, the development of each song finds a traditional verse-chorus approach, something Cave In was not prone to embrace just two albums ago. “Joy Opposites,” understandably one of the album’s highlights, establishes such comfort in the subtle verse, that the repetition of the chorus is almost an essential component of the track. The bridge following this portion of the tune finds the group dwelling in terrain that is almost foreign to their catalogue. This landscape explores territory that is based on establishing lush atmosphere and embracing the tribulations of true romance and compassion, building up an epic outlet of emotions. “Anchor” Antenna’s primary single, finds Cave In wearing their Foo Fighters hat, picking up an upbeat tempo with an overbearing melody that could essentially appeal to the ears of any audience. Cave In’s ability to branch out in such comfort in this approach certainly establishes a sexiness factor that was not presented on their debut; sexiness that was brushed upon in Jupiter but never fully captured and developed.
Perhaps Brodsky’s solo approach to his craft carried over into Cave In and gave the group an opportunity to take in a much needed breath of fresh air to liven up their sound. The songs on Antenna have a certain playfulness that bring joy to anyone who should take the time to explore the album. Perhaps time spent roaming the country with an acoustic and a wooden stool certainly lead Brodsky to develop a certain retrospective to the possibilities available with a fully functional circuit. Or maybe the outfit recognized the company in which they roamed was sheltering a harbored scene, convoluted with peers all mimicking a trite sound to begin with. Antenna explores refreshing ideas in a time where insight was crucial to a thriving music community. Cave In has gone the route of mellowing out an aggressive approach to expressing themselves, and established a rewarding audio experience in the process, thus freeing themselves from their contemporaries.