by Cooper Bowen
Twenty-one-year-old British singer-songwriter Cavetown released his latest single, Sweet Tooth, fittingly on Valentine’s Day last month. As the title track on a new four-song collection of the same name, it accompanied the singles Feb 14, Telescope, and Things That Make It Warm. Recorded, mixed, produced, and mastered entirely by the artist himself in his London apartment, Sweet Tooth is distinctly individual to Cavetown.
Gentle, crooning melodies reminiscent of early Conan Grey and Wallows mark Cavetown’s music as quintessentially indie pop, and Sweet Tooth is no exception. A crescendo of muted cymbals at the chorus punctuate a thrumming guitar and soft drum beats that fill the voids left by relatively short and simple lyrical notes. Cavetown embraces the deeper elements of his voice throughout the track, daring listeners to sing or hum along.
However, where Sweet Tooth acoustically succeeds, the single’s embrace of a childish metaphor of love might limit his message. This is not a song that will play at prom; at times, it feels immature, and is inherently infused with insecurity – a stylistic choice that enthralls Cavetown’s loyal base but does little to expand his audience. Teenagers, the market audience for singers across the industry, want to feel mature and confident, and Sweet Tooth does just the opposite. If Cavetown truly wishes to define himself in indie pop, he cannot limit himself to this solitary theme; note the exhaustingly redundant tropes of childhood forced into every song on Melanie Martinez’s album Crybaby.
Cavetown released a scaled-down music video accompanying Sweet Tooth on its initial release date, featuring an artistic interpretation of the song’s theme. Throughout the video, small bouquets of flowers are doused in chocolate sauce and coated in colorful sprinkles. This represents Cavetown’s choice to call falling in love, symbolized by the flowers, as having a “sweet tooth” for someone. The singer released a second, longer video on Mar. 11, where he stars in a confusing collision of a video game and a fairy tale. Cavetown, dressed as a homespun take on the tooth fairy, sneaks through someone’s house in a mock video game, all the while attempting to avoid Rube Goldberg-like booby traps. The rather odd scenario is frequently interrupted by shots of Cavetown, still dressed as the tooth fairy, singing alongside his drummer and guitarist. The high-energy atmosphere conjured up by the video feels at odds with not only the story of the song but also the calm and dream-like tone of Sweet Tooth as a whole.
Regardless, Sweet Tooth is a clever lyrical creation; Cavetown paints a beautiful, simple, and lonely world in his quietly whispered words. With the chorus echoing, “I like you. Say it back,” Sweet Tooth is an anthem for the romantically insecure, a rare recognition that teenagers in love are rarely as confident as they are made to appear. This song, while possibly limited in its general popularity, will no doubt be a fan favorite in the years to come.
Cavetown’s debut album, Sleepyhead, was originally set for release on Mar. 27; the outbreak of COVID-19, however, led Cavetown to delay the release indefinitely.
(Sources: Spotify, Genius Lyrics, Moxie)
(Photo credits: Wikipedia)