iM Exclusive/Stream: THE CAUTIONEERS – Where We Are EP
Successfully pulling off an all-encompassing track-blurring production, Toronto six-piece The Cautioneers have crafted an “eerie pop song” -filled debut effort that manages to sound like everything from straight-up indie rock staples Superchunk, boy/girl-fronted rock acts Mother Mother and Alcoholic Faith Mission, to Danish neo-prog rockers Mew and everything in between all at the same time… and amazingly, it works without losing the listener along the way.
The gradual crescendo throughout the course of the titular minute-long instrumental intro – Where We Are – builds to the opening of If Only, and it’s from there that the keys, synth and guitars drop in tandem and begin the 4/4 onslaught of your ears.
Quickly, you’ll notice that the vocals throughout the album are rich and layered and the lead guitar cuts through the layers like a giant cleaver through a cake – the synths quickly get in on the fun echoing familiar leads in slightly different musical variations that help to tie all these disparate thoughts together into a cohesive musical idea – so like prog rock… but not.
What follows in Stand Back And Watch The Collapse is a more directed songwriting approach, though there are more liberal piano lead tangents that incite a greater feeling of whimsy than in the dance-inducing opening that precedes it.
In conjunction with the prominent horns that pop up sporadically throughout the course of the release, the strings on A Feeling Of Love And Meaning lend a soothing orchestral feel to the track that one could liken to Arcade Fire’s recent work, though this is much more easily accessible, and not as deliberately eclectic.
The thing that jumps out the most about this record – and the thing that tends to draw upon the Mew comparison – is the ethereal quality to the harmonized vocals; though the prominent synth-keys melodic harmony lines that punch through the bridge in The Art Of Cartography don’t hurt this comparison either.
Opening with the sombre imagery “the faithful come and go along the lifeless roads”, the final track on the EP Heaven Help Us is a solid finish. The song immediately dials it to 11 off the cusp of Art Of Cartography – again maintaining this all-encompassing song-to-song flowing production – and smoothens out for a softer bridge before allowing the back two minutes to slowly increase in speed and intensity to the track’s powerful conclusion.
The ultimate drawback to this production approach on Where We Are is probably with the separation of the songs when they inevitably end up in a ‘track shuffle’ setting, where the kicker off one song opens the next – if the endings had been extended a little longer, and the intros cut a little shorter, this might’ve been avoided – so if the release has a notable downfall, that’s the one to note; though it doesn’t really have any bearing on the band’s ability to craft a hook-filled song – which they do here in spades.
All-in-all, Where We Are is a damn fine debut from a promising young band; leaving the listener not with the lingering question of “where ARE they?”, but “where will they be a year from now once everyone has a copy of this piece of work?” – and with a solid live show to boot it’s probably without saying that if you haven’t heard of The Cautioneers yet, you will be hearing their name a lot more frequently very soon.
SIDE NOTE: keep an ear open for the “Buddy Holly” solo homage from the piano in the bridge of Heaven Help Us – once you hear it, you’ll never be able to un-hear it.
- RYAN STEPHENSON PRICE