The idea of a hazy memory of a hazy memory is a little too meta to fully process; however with New Jersey four-piece Caged Animals’ debut for Lucky Number (Darwin Deez, Friends), that idea has found a form, of an ephemeral sort. 2009/10 will be remembered (albeit in slightly more niche corners rather than the official history books) as the period where musicians searched for a past that they’d never fully known, digging up swathes of chiffon fuzz and decades-old echoes of Dick Dale riffs, and swooned desperately for a moment of perfection that might have never existed in the first place. Caged Animals — the brainchild of Vincent Cacchione and his partner Magali Charron — sound in turn like the fuzzed-out memory of some mythical summer.
On opener “Teenagers In Heat,” the church bells and gentle frost recall 2010 efforts by White Hinterland and Active Child, countered by a firm, fervid desire: “I want to believe we will always be teenagers in heat.” On “This Summer I’ll Make It Up To You,” Cacchione’s reedy, baleful vocals uncannily resemble those of Kisses’ Jesse Kivel, and tread a similarly mournful, escapist path to that band: “They broke my heart into a thousand diamonds, so I’m going where the sun is always shining/I promise that I’ll take you to the west coast.”
Throughout the record, Caged Animals rarely touch on a sound they could truly call their own — even the weirder moments, like the vocoder-heavy, hip-hop pastiche “Piles of $$$” and “Feelingz” sound like the glut of jj/Lil’ Wayne mash-ups that came out last year; occasionally, as on album-closer “Instant,” the songs’ slight structures gives the impression that many of them are unfinished demos. However, as a whole, there’s a louche sparkle and winsome malaise that binds them all together; a warm hit as easy as flipping through an old photo album, or catching the scent of last summer’s suncream.