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Caracara - New Preoccupations Music Album Reviews

Caracara - New Preoccupations Music Album Reviews
The Philly band takes influence from the earnest, unfashionable alt-rock of the 1990s on a moving set about sobriety and freedom.

One perk of emo is the genre’s indifference to traditional notions of cool, which frees bands to run with some truly unfashionable muses. Few albums have tested that freedom quite like New Preoccupations, the second album by Philly band Caracara, which draws inspiration from some of the least celebrated alt-rock of the 1990s: the minivan post-grunge of bands like Matchbox Twenty and the Wallflowers, with their supple vocals, shampooed guitars, and all. God bless emo labels like Will Yip’s Memory Music, because it’s hard to imagine the Rough Trades of the world pressing a record that sounds this much like the back half of a late-’90s Now That’s What I Call Music compilation.

Perhaps emo was already heading in this direction. This is, after all, a scene that can easily wrangle enough bands to fill a Third Eye Blind covers compilation. But most of those bands are drawn to the scrappier edges of Third Eye Blind—the misfit energy, the “can I graduate?” shoutiness. Caracara can go loud, too, and it’s always exciting when they do, but New Preoccupations is never more transfixing than when it embraces the tame. At times, the album is almost radical in its docility: With its bleary “One Headlight” tempo, “Nocturnalia” is so earnest that singer Will Lindsay never stops to worry that maybe he’s begun to sound like the guy from Semisonic.

Mellow restraint is a new look for this band. Between its creaky arrangements and gothic brooding, Caracara’s 2017 debut Summer Megalith was all exposed nerve, every movement played for maximum drama. Some of those theatrical impulses periodically trickle through New Preoccupations. The mournful, disembodied strings accompanying the broken heartland rock of opener “My Thousand Eyes” kick off the album on a note of quivering sorrow. But the band has grown more selective about going for the jugular, and they’ve gotten better at conveying emotion without leaning on edge. “Colorglut” and “Harsh Light” coast on gentle drum loops right out of a Primitive Radio Gods record. Their guitars churn but have no bite.

The album’s kinder, softer makeover would be audacious if it weren’t all so genuine. Over the last 15 years, indie acts have dabbled in all kinds of outdated or maligned genres, sometimes out of genuine love for misunderstood music and sometimes seemingly just for the challenge, but the results rarely feel as natural as New Preoccupations. Lindsay wrote the record while recovering from alcohol and substance abuse, and in the smooth contours and earnest ache of ‘90s alt-pop, his lyrics find an apt symmetry: clean sounds for depictions of clean living. On the sun-brightened “Strange Interactions in the Night,” Lindsay likens his sobriety to resurrection as he surveys a city scarred by the opioid epidemic: “Under the overpass we found/Evidence of exodus and needles on the ground,” he sings.

Despite his tendency toward biblical analogies, Lindsay avoids moralizing on New Preoccupations. Sobriety may be a gift, but so too, he contends, are some of his memories of using. Tinged with romance, “Colorglut” blissfully recounts a night spent gazing out of the windows of a Volvo and listening to Dirty Projectors. Are those experiences invalidated because they involved drugs? Even during upbeat songs, Lindsay grieves a lost sense of self as he ponders how to fill the void left by recovery.

It’s only on the closer “Monoculture” that the band fully indulges that kind of roaring, go-for-broke catharsis the rest of the album so creatively suppresses. “I’m finally free to let go,” Lindsay screams over crashing, post-rock swells and crescendoing strings. It’s less an epiphany than a lament. That freedom is beautiful, these songs testify, but it’s also a burden all its own.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Caracara - New Preoccupations Music Album Reviews Caracara - New Preoccupations Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, April 04, 2022 Rating: 5

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