Caroles, the Auckland-based noise/punk/emo trio, released their new album Momentary Decline on April Fools. It follows Hollow Trophy recorded in August 2013, and their debut release Huge Pizza in February of the same year. The new album is excellent, full of the sullen and youthful energy of the previous releases; it differs in that it feels a little more balanced and cohesive.
Momentary Decline, especially when compared with Huge Pizza recorded live at bFM studios, and Hollow Trophy recorded in a day somewhere out of Auckland (and, according to a Bandcamp itinerary, was preceded and followed by tripping balls), is more refined. It was recorded in the spring of last year, mixed by drummer Lawrence Goodwin, and mastered by Chris Townsend who has worked with the likes of Die! Die! Die! and Portishead.
The musical influences across the album are vast. The frantic energy that pervades it is similar to that of post hard-core bands like At the Drive-In. Tracks like “Bad Sleep” and “Clarity Decline” are reminiscent of early Modest Mouse. The track “Greenfog” is a shout out to the Auckland band of the same name, with whom Caroles are currently touring New Zealand. A standout, the album closer “Dwindling”, has all the tempering of ‘90s emo, with washed vocals and droning guitar.
This is not to say that Caroles don’t have their own sound—they do. Rather, the influences are varied, adopted well, and transformed into something fresh and new. Momentary Decline embodies a youthful ethos that is unique and innovative, and has a distinct place in the music emerging out the New Zealand underground scene.
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It is an album of rise and falls, at times slow and pensive, and at others crashing and furious. This is how Caroles manipulate noise. They space thrashing crescendos with gloomy, slow riffs, creating feelings of despair and pent up frustration. Tracks like “Now You Know” and “ANAL_BONGRIPPAH” embody this up/down pattern, and it is particularly notable on “Bad Sleep”—perhaps the most beautiful Caroles track to date. It pairs a sad echoic riff with soft, hollowed out vocals, before building into a fast-paced climax.
Momentary Decline is an album despondent and sometimes angry, but also energetic, and even cathartic as an outlet for pent up frustrations.