Rising from the ashes of Pretty Girls Make Graves, the Cave Singers have quickly expended beyond the success of that band and carved out a nice niche for themselves. Debut record Invitation Songs was an unknown quantity, bringing a certain mystery and uniqueness that was initially a little difficult to crack. Was it a guy singing? A girl? Marge Simpson? Are they taking the piss? Once those initial questions had settled down a little, the record settled in to become an easy stand-out of 2007.
There's certainly less mystery to this new record, but instead just a welcome anticipation that this is going to be good record. On first listen there's certainly little disappointment, but the initial reaction is 'here's some more Cave Singers' - 10 new tracks that sound like a direct expansion on the first album. Repeated listening quickly dispels that simple notion.
Over the course of opener Summer Light and second song Leap, the album ramps up to a higher tempo than Invitation Songs and it never looks back. The eclectic folky sound of the debut is subtly pulled back, stripping away some of the washboard and the melodica influence and giving way to a more traditional rock sound. That sound is bolstered by the production of Colin Stewart, who returns to man the decks after the debut, plus stints producing favourites including Black Mountain and Ladyhawk.
As the record settles in, the evolution of the band's sound starts to emerge, with them now sounding somewhat more grown into their sound. Songs are belted out with a more self-assured style and what was something of a novelty with the first record is now the definitive sound of an accomplished band. Songs like Townships, At The Cut (mp3 here), Beach House (mp3 here) and VV have an instant familiarity, sounding like old classics that you haven't heard in a while.
Warm, nostalgic, rocking and powerful - this is the ghost of Fleetwood Mac, channeled through the Pacific Northwest with magnificent success.