The Cave Singers, No Witch

Karen Schoemer

By Karen Schoemer

on 02.18.11 in Reviews

With so many Beach Houses, Beach Fossils, Best Coasts and Tennises churning out airy-summery indie pop, can you blame the Cave Singers for indulging in a bit of shrewd marketing? "Swim Club" poses as just that brand of childhood-retrospective hazy carefreeness. An acoustic guitar picks out a light melody while the rhythm whisks like spokes in sunlight; percussion fizzes, an alto flute peeps and singer Pete Quirk weaves an impressionistic tale about a girl, a mountain bike and day that seems to last forever. "Dark streets, watch out/ Red sun, come home," he sings.

Sadness with a bright breeze blowing through

No Witch, the Seattle trio's third album, breaks free from the pack by going deeper into the sadness part of the sad-sweet equation. While the competition draws on '60s easy listening with hints of Brazilian pop, the Cave Singers take the creaky old folk/blues route: "Haller Lake" is a woodsy anthem threaded with tambourine and melodica, while "Falls" is a minor-chord lament that reeks of Delta bottomland. Throughout the album, idealizations of the past can't blot out fears of a future one shade shy of bleak. Beds are cold, loved ones vanish and dreams of settling down come off as wistful and naïve. "Maybe you'll stay and furnish our home," Quirk tentatively suggests in "Gifts and the Raft." But delicate, repetitious riffs and winsome harmonies add twinges of hopefulness; "Clever Creatures" practically jangles. A bright breeze blows through No Witch — just enough tatter and turn back the gloom.