Review Summary: "For a debut album, ‘Floorboards’ is pretty phenomenal, perhaps suggesting an illustrious career for these five musicians."
Topshelf Records has earned a reputation for having some quality post-hardcore/screamo bands under their wing, their forerunners including bands such as Pianos Become the Teeth, The Saddest Landscape and Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate). Another one of these forerunners are Nevada-based quintet Caravels.
Caravels have caused quite a stir with their first LP, ‘Floorboards’, and it’s not hard to see why. Seamlessly blending post-hardcore angst with post-rock delicacy, Floorboards is an album which still manages to sound fresh and interesting despite countless bands fusing the aforementioned genres to the point of stagnation. This is an album which manages to avoid any major gimmicks and holds itself in high-esteem with just musicianship alone.
One of the features which makes Floorboards a great one is the cohesiveness that Caravels displays to create an intense and emotionally charged album. The bass is edited almost perfectly in the mix, and lays down the basic melody, while the two guitars intertwine with each other to add texture to the melody. The drummer, although not the greatest drummer in the genre, shows his versatility somewhat, not being restricted to one ‘style’, slowing down the tempo when needed. He also throws in a few time signature changes now and again to keep things interesting, as is evident in the first track, ‘Iceland’.
The emotional weight that Floorboards carries is mainly produced by the melancholy atmosphere that the guitars help to create, meaning that the band don’t have to rely on clichéd ‘angst-filled’ lyrics to be recognised as an ‘emotional’ band.
Despite all of this, the record isn’t exactly faultless. The vocalist isn’t a great one, and his voice doesn’t seem to have its own identity; sure, it gets the job done, but there is not a lot of emotion in the vocals, and they come off as sounding unconvincing. The job of the vocalist, especially in this genre, is to make the listener ‘feel’ what they’re writing about, but this is no easy task when the vocalist doesn’t have a particularly passionate style of delivery.
Still, the emotion carried via the instruments makes up for this, and as said before, the cohesiveness of this band really see them through, in an age where musical stagnation and unoriginality are commonplace. What really separates Caravels from the rest of the bunch is the dynamics that they are able to create, and how their attempt at fusing post-hardcore and post-rock actually works, managing to sound original and fresh. For a debut album, ‘Floorboards’ is pretty phenomenal, perhaps suggesting an illustrious career for these five musicians.