Do I still like pop music? I occasionally express doubts over that, just like someone who has been scarred after falling for the latest cryptocurrency trend that some Redditors have been shilling about. The Strokes, Lana del Rey, recent U2, even the Arctic Monkeys had over-inflated price tags long before their products were even out. I’d like to say that I was among the ones that resisted falling for it. But, frankly, from Led Zeppelin to Greta van Fleet, from the Joy Division to the Editors, most people have learned about their favourite records from what the industry machine has chosen to provide them.
With that in mind, it’s a tremendous, almost violent shock to hear someone making music for the love of the art. Not only that, but unlike many of the well-intentioned but not quite talented enough underground artists fighting the good fight, the songwriter behind The Flashpot Moments possesses all the skills required to make good records. Art takes a bit of diligent stud after all. Campfires for Cavepeople is an alternative-rock record, if you must call it that. However, it is not one that will test your tolerance for noise, dissonance, or plain poor-singing masked as artistic merit.
Campfires for Cavepeople is the work of a man that has long ago fallen in love with melodies and what the timbre of each human voice can do with them. Because of this, perhaps, its roots live in the rare moments of melancholy found in the work of classic power-pop groups like Big Star, Cheap Trick, and Badfinger.
This is apparent in the EP’s opening song I don’t wanna get better. The vocal tone recalls Robin Zander singing tunes by the Beatles. The layered vocals and orchestration give the song a dense sonic texture, while the lyrics are pure working-class melancholy, not unlike something that New Jersey’s favourite bard might write.
Alison/Allison is a worthy tribute to the Elvis Costello classic that it references. Much like the work of the well-read punk-rocker, the composition is subtle yet very sophisticated. Once again, singer Timothy Cawley’s ear for melodies and for hitting upon great harmonies at just the right instance make the tune stand out.
One gets the feeling that Cawley’s vocals have been so carefully groomed to sing these kinds of power-pop compositions that he could ride comfortably on the quality of his tone alone. Knockoff, however, reveals him to be a restless songwriter, wistfully asking life’s big questions. Pay special attention to the understated dynamics of the guitar playing. There are no fireworks being lit, but the EP is a neat musical history lesson on the strengths of guitar pop.
The short Wasted in Waltz Time acts as the EP’s jingle and mission statement. “A wasted day isn’t wasted at all if I’m wasting away with you“, chime the vocals sweetly.
Campfires for Cavepeople saves its biggest emotional punch for ending. Confession sees Cawley’s range pulled to its upper limits and to great effect. It’s also a chance for the songwriter to come clean, finally opting to pour his heart rather than act tough or clever.
All of the themes, and, perhaps even the songwriting might fall flat on the EP were it not for a tremendous precision in terms of singing and orchestration. The Flashpot Moments’ EP echoes the writer’s musical heroes. In coming so close to replicating the best aspects of these classic musicians’ works, Cawley creates the avenues for becoming a cult hero himself.
Disclaimer: This article is a sponsored post. While the artist sponsored the publication of a review, the thoughts expressed in it are entirely, and objectively the work of the writer.