Three records in and Cauls from Newcastle in the north east of England are really beginning to hit their stride. Hot on the back of 2011’s pair of two-track EPs ‘If Bored Pull Tab Marked Tab’ and ‘Crave Divan’, the somewhat counter-intuitively titled ‘EP2’ sees the Geordie rockers build on and surpass the creativity and sonic sensibility that led the BBC to tip them as one of the region’s hottest young band.
They’re a difficult band to neatly categorise but Cauls’ sound falls most closely towards the abrasive and jagged melody of post-hardcore. But while there’s clear influence from the likes of At The Drive In, that descriptor doesn’t really tell the whole story and songs like “Iris Brickfield” and “Ahsonnutli” feature extended sections of layered guitars that are far closer to the instrumental sensibilities of post-rock. This contrast – some would say conflict – lies at the heart of Cauls’ music and lends it a sense of urgent dynamism as carefully arranged ethereal guitars crash into screaming walls of distortion, seemingly at a moment’s notice.
Guitar work is impressive throughout, showing enormous versatility as the songs careen from meticulously constructed atmospheric sections to searing, tightly choreographed aggression. At times it’s easy to forget that all this is the labour of just a single guitarist, Graham Morris. There’s a surprising depth and complexity in the song-writing that far surpasses many of Cauls’ post-hardcore peers and nowhere is this more apparent than on the scintillating closing track, “Ahsonnutli”. Over eight minutes the song metamorphoses from a churning, down-tempo atonal beast into melodic contemplation and on to a magnificently rousing crescendo that is undoubtedly ‘EP2’s single finest moment. Andrew McCaffery absolutely shines on bass here, with a little help from the record’s excellent production.
All of the above is accomplished with a panache and professionalism that easily rivals the big-budget recordings of much more established acts. In the space of just four songs, Cauls display remarkable versatility yet still manage to imprint their unmistakeable signature sound on the listener’s consciousness. ‘EP2 ‘is an unassumingly captivating record that blew my modest expectations entirely out the water, showing that life can be breathed back into apparently stale genres from the most unanticipated places.