It's fair to say that Brooklyn's Caged Animals are the kind of undergroundish, but well-liked, indie-pop outfit that suffers from a helpless prolificacy. Their Bandcamp is populated with so many EPs that even if you've heard of the band, and maybe even consider yourself a fan, there's doubtless some two-track micro-release thing you've never encountered. Thankfully, this summer's aptly named This Summer EP is getting a little more attention. For all the tropes that Caged Animals adhere to—jangly guitars, glowy synths, self-conscious lyricism—they're charmingly awkward and sincerely upbeat enough to make it work. Helmed by the Marc Bolan–-coiffed Vincent Cacchione, whose obvious love for soft rock and r&b surfaces throughout his pop-inspired tunes, the band's ability to push a little further in any direction, from drum-machine jams to quasi–surf rock, makes them so anodyne and listenable.
Despite the gobs of material they put out, it's Caged Animals' occasional tendency to land a pitch-perfect track that makes everybody's mixtapes. This summer, doing what a jangle-pop outfit does best, their seasonally appropriate five-track EP contains yet another one of those omnipresent jams, the near-titular, "This Summer I'll Make it Up to You." Replete with handclaps, it's easily the standout selection on the EP. However, "Burnt Butterfly" plays with the surf-rock paradigm with distorted tremolos and sleepy leads, making for a great, croony ballad. The understated "I Will Take My Own Hand" suffers only from Cacchione's small vocal weaknesses. And the closer, flightily titled "^^ & Away," shows a return to the band's penchant for taking eerie, contemporary r&b-approved vocal effects and making them fit the thoughtful-pop paradigm somehow. Guilty of only some mild preciousness, Caged Animals continue to make simple stylistic goofs on comfortable indy-pop parameters heedlessly enjoyable.
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