Sweet and dreamy, but with a sense of drive and purpose, not to mention a playful sense of time, “Old Friend” starts in the middle of the story (“And I sat down on the wall…”). I like that. I also like the haunted-house organ and those ghostly harmonies and those scary synthesizer washes and how Matthew Iwanusa offers up his sugary tenor as if he doesn’t hear any of that. He’s not scared, not him.
Most of all I like the time-signature-based hook in the chorus. The song moves along in 4/4 time, at a brisk clip, and then in the chorus, the drive remains but something’s awry, extra beats sneak in and then out in a way that creates a kind of hiccup in the rhythm. Two things seem to be happening. First, the melody line has been skewed even further away from the beginning of the measure than it already had been in the verse; in the chorus, each new line starts two beats before the next measure starts, rather than a beat and a half in front. Okay, doesn’t sound like much, but trust me, it’s different. Second, the chorus begins with two measures of 6/4 before proceeding as previously in 4/4. The 6/4 measures start at 0:47, around the word “around,” and then bump back into the 4/4 stream at the lyrical seam between the words “right on time” and “it was just an old friend.” As usual with this kind of stuff, it sounds clunky and hard to follow as I describe it, but what you’ll hear is delightful and engaging.
Caveman is a five-piece from Brooklyn that formed in January 2010. (Yes, we are getting there, folks: listening to bands that did not exist even in the ’00s. Time flies, whether you’re having fun or not.) “Old Friend” will be found on band’s debut album, CoCo Beware, coming out next month.