EP Review: Caracara — ‘Better”

Posted: by The Editor

Caracara’s Summer Megalith was my favorite album of 2017. The band had a unique sound, borrowing elements from genres as disparate as jazz, emo, post-rock, pop rock, folk, and even post-hardcore into a single cohesive LP. Perhaps even more impressive was that Summer Megalith was the band’s first record; it was so clearly the sound of a band with a clear vision and confidence that it felt it had the gravity of many bands’ swan songs.

Earlier this month the band released their first song in nearly two years, titled “Better,” the first single and title track to their upcoming EP. Upon my first listen I took to Twitter, as one does in the Hot Take Economy, and I fired off a tweet in which read, “Not sure how many bands are on Caracara’s level rn.” I did so without thinking, of course, and it was a bold claim, particularly as I’d heard the song exactly one time. I would likely come to regret my rash decision-making, as I always do. But now that I have heard the full EP some double-digit number of times, I can say for certain that I can count on one hand the number of bands on Caracara’s level rn.

Let’s start with “Better,” the six-minute opener, a sort of “Streets of Philadelphia” for the post-Recession era. The band’s native Philly almost becomes a character alongside the “vampires” and “Bathsheba of the strip mall set” as the urban melds with the religious. The song swirls with the languid dreaminess of Summer Megalith standouts like “Apotheosis” or “Evil,” until two and a half minutes in when Will Lindsay howls, “I thought you knew me better” and the song takes off. The track’s latter half finds Lindsay harmonizing with Mannequin Pussy’s Marisa Dabice over a climax that sounds like a punk The National. It is a gorgeous song, neither half overshadowing the other.

By comparison, Better’s two other songs feel particularly grounded. “Better” is nearly twice the length of the following “New Chemical Hades,” but don’t for a second think that means there’s a dip in quality. “New Chemical Hades” is one of Caracara’s catchier songs, almost a cousin to their earlier singles “Glacier” and “Revelatory,” but with a newfound restraint. It never reaches the explosive heights of those songs, the power residing instead in the slow drip of the sounds that get dropped into the track as it proceeds. Lindsay insists in the chorus that “I can change,” and it’s clear that he can indeed change – nearly every Caracara song could conceivably be a different band, but all are executed with aplomb.

This is hammered home in the EP’s finale, “Learn Your Love,” a darker, driving rock song than either of the other tracks. It gives Better an energy absent, for the most part, in the other two songs, providing some muscle for the home stretch. Caracara is the sort of band whose default setting is the lush ballad, and while that is clearly where they excel, they seem just as comfortable rocking the fuck out when the time calls for it, and “Learn Your Love” is further proof.

They have only fifteen songs to their name, but Better absolutely dispels any doubt; Caracara is one of the most consistent bands around. Better has all the weight and diversity of a full-length , without any of the filler some bands pack theirs with. I had thought for a while that Summer Megalith might’ve been a one-off project, but I’m glad to see it isn’t. I’m not sure what’s next for Caracara, but they’ve already proven twice that they don’t miss.

Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal

Zac Djamoos | @greatwhitebison

The Alternative is ad-free and 100% supported by our readers. If you’d like to help us produce more content and promote more great new music, please consider donating to our Patreon page, which also allows you to receive sweet perks like free albums and The Alternative merch.