Mares’ Tails

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The title of Cavil's album refers to a kind of high-flying cloud, light but heralding storms -- appropriately named enough for a collection of songs that hints at darker feelings while keeping a gentle exterior. Drawing on a variety of sonic sources -- soft solo folk performers, calmer '80s-and-after post-punk guitar textures -- at times there's a sudden bite to the arrangements that gets the attention. Often it's down to the percussion -- the way the brushed drums almost sit in the ear on "These Things" offsets the calmer sounds in the mix. Other times it can simply be the sense of what sits back further in volume -- what sounds almost like haunted bird calls on "Plastic Bag (That's My Flag)," on another song soft chimes and a nervous, looming arc of feedback. Meanwhile, the lyrical vision of "Pennine Town," a portrait of a tangle of emotions and memories while looking out over the titular site, isn't dark per se but emphasizes a sense of questioning and non-resolution, at once beautiful and unsettled. In general, Mares' Tails aims for the gently reflective, and if the album as a whole veers a bit toward the one-note (less due to the arrangements than the general feeling and pace), individually the numbers "Cold Heaven" and "When I Think of You" (not a Janet Jackson cover, but that would be a hell of an idea) are calmly performed and sung. When everything strips down to vocals and guitar on "Piranha Canal," one gets the sense of the core strength of Cavil, but it makes the additions and twists throughout Mares' Tails that much more of an engaging listen.

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