Our friends in The Caldwell are quick to establish a grey and powerful color of sound on the opener, “Winter.” It marks a waypoint that touches on everything to come. Wide chasms of emotive guitar that seems tinged with grunge and stained in a rich wine of observational love and social depth.
Modern Love is about the now and relationships, but it’s much more. These tracks open a window into the romantics of ‘80s pop and the grit of late alternative. Most listeners will want to find association to other artists and yet I think that’s an off point. What we have here is a great blend of influence spanning decades and emerging with a soulful character that sits atop the rest, sharing company with The Walkmen (the band may get called out for sounding to much like The Walkmen at times) and to a lesser extent King Of Leon.
As the album unfolds so do the different shades. Some songs are lax and reserved while others are similarly composed yet differing in their levels of weighted content. Themes ebb and flow from strife and struggle to downright betrayal on “Behind My Back.” We get to see inside experiences that taught the group, individually and collectively, lessons on life’s giving and taking away.
The vocalist sounds like a second cousin to Hamilton Leithauser on the "The Cause" as his vocals idiosyncratic qualities have undeniable similarities. He sings about about memory, love and nostalgia as a noticeable strain of melancholy is attached to his voice.
There’s a poignant moment at the end that brings it all home with repetition and a strengthening horn line. The message is cloaked in an almost uplifting musical façade, but “I learned my lesson” has a touch of remorse. It’s really in the timbre of lead vocal, always leaning on the verge of a shout or a call out to whoever might reciprocate.
“Hold On” has great highs and lows that flow right along with the urgency while the closing track “On And On” stays smooth and paced. I felt it was the right move to finish things off with. After all, The Caldwell is about the intensity within the calm – a quality hard to find let alone harness.
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