caroline, the eponymous debut album by folk music group caroline, who are often heard at Total Refreshment Centre, is a stunning effort in new-age Appalachian folk and Midwestern emo. Pulling from several influences, caroline is folksy and intense, yet simultaneously music that lets listeners just be.
Beginning with “Dark blue,” we’re given nearly three minutes of instrumentation before being introduced to choral singing. The lyrics are simple and repetitive, as they are throughout the entire album. Though it’s not a sign of lack of creativity or a hint that caroline do not have anything to say, but rather a purposeful decision to let the music speak and the lyrics serve as a bridge to the world they’ve created through their musicality.
“Good morning (red),” the record’s second track, highlights the group’s ability to subvert expectations and keep us wondering what we’re going to hear next. It begins with strings reminiscent of ‘90s country but eventually moves into a complete breakdown of the song, filled with empty space and dwindling percussive moments.
caroline contrasts modern music that focuses almost entirely on vocals and production value by focusing on the instrumentation and using vocals as they would any of their other instruments, turning the voice into a violin or a trumpet. Though caroline clearly have great technical skills, they also have the beautiful ability to capture an emotion in a song, or hundreds of emotions, which is fully displayed in “IWR.”
We later move to “Engine (eavesdropping),” where we’re reminded of the beauty in softness before moving into a new soundscape, and the album fittingly ends with “Natural Death.” Though it moves through different sonic atmospheres, it keeps the same undertones, as does throughout the entire hauntingly beautiful album.
caroline LP is out now via Rough Trade. Buy here.