What do an indie rock quartet and a professional wrestler have in common? No, this isn’t the beginning of a groaner, but rather a genuine inquiry about what inspired Brooklyn band Caveman to reference WWE Hall of Famer Koko B. Ware with the title of their full-length debut, Coco Beware. No immediate connections emerge upon listening, but the moods and textures of the record prove every bit as colorful as the pugilist namesake’s costumes and novelty parrot. Combining the sparkling majesty of later-era Animal Collective and the lush experimentation of TV on the Radio with the warm yearning of the Shins, Caveman cover an ambitious territory in the album's ten-track, 36-minute run, balancing potentially conflicting elements like four-part harmonies, tribal drums, trickling keyboard, hazy guitars, and a lyrical focus on friendship and growth. Opener “A Country’s King of Dreams” deftly illustrates this, as the earthy, tactile percussion rhythm and bare-bones bass lay the foundation for atmospheric keyboard, rousing vocals, and African highlife-inspired guitar arpeggios, culminating in a drum circle-lullaby hybrid. Tracks like “Old Friend” are a bit more straight-ahead by comparison, offering happily lazy, sun-dappled neo-psych in the vein of MGMT and Portugal. The Man. Summer fades into fall with the moody, Talking Heads-meets mantra mashup “Thankful,” enveloping the mysterious refrain “Thankful all my friends with remorse” in shimmering guitar and propulsive conga drumming. In the end, the connection between the album’s title and its contents remains a question mark, but it’s befitting of this surprising, deeply inspired debut.
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AllMusic Review by Chrysta Cherrie