Much has been made of BristolpunksCaves over the last few years, but I’ve mostly ignored the hype—”For Fans Of” sections can really fuck up your internal compass. For the uninitiated, the pop sensibility of Leaving makes it a strange entry point into the career of a band known for riotous melodic punk rock. But as a wayward queer, it reinforces my belief that if you are meant to have a song in your life, it will find you. The album opens with “Sad,” a staunch disavowal of the gender binary that is decidedly not hostile, but tinged with melancholy and hope. The remaining fifteen minutes of music on the LP sways gently between bitter and sweet, with both flavors passing through the teeth one expects to find on a punk record. The hype makes sense. Caves are not the kind of band that makes it easy to just like them casually. They are the kind of band that pens lyrics you want tattooed on your body until you realize that, once they are divorced from their song of origin, the words lose all of their power. Leaving exists in that magical realm in which the music is the message; capturing all of the feelings that manifest in between life’s pivotal moments. “Breathe in, breathe out.” Thanks, Caves. I will.
–Kelley O’Death (Dead Broke, [email protected], deadbrokerecords.com)