Modern rock quartet Caralina make a valiant effort on their debut release The Skeletons, with six tracks that sound a bit like b-sides from a Weezer record. It's apparent that these guys have paid particular attention to their musical forebears, inheriting that group's sensibilities like impressionable children.
There's nothing terribly complex about Skeletons, but the album is full of tightly knit indie-pop songs. Dreary vocals enhance and complement Caralina's aggressively "emo" sound, as do bitter lyrical themes centered on love gone awry. While the not-so-subtle sarcasm on the track "Mayfield Place" is effective, the band tends to overuse this mocking tone. Lyrically, singer D. Olbrych trades in melodramatic, "heavy" metaphors; he sounds earnest enough, but his words often come on a bit too strong. Lines such as "You look good as a city/dressed to kill and eyes like knives," sound forced, like a young writer trying too hard to be deep. Olbrych's constant use of the words "death" and "graveyards" as symbolic reference points soon become more repetitive than effective.
The Skeletons is largely redeemed through its solid rhythmic foundation and catchy pop guitar progressions -- there's definitely some talent here. The cut "Track 11" could easily be on alt-rock radio, right alongside the band's probable heroes. (In fact, it's easy to imagine many of these songs written by a number of modern rock bands.) Caralina rarely stray from their established formula, and when they do -- such as on the piano-driven "Enemy"-- the results are hit-and-miss.
There's plenty to be praised here, though, especially for a freshman release. The Skeletons is a decent debut from a promising young group.