Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Errant Charm - Vetiver (SUMMER 2011)

The Errant Charm

Sub Pop Records.

SCQ Rating: 79%

Vetiver’s reputation as a folk-rock outfit is partially hammered out on the promise that each full-length will feature a dominant amount of unplugged, slow-moving grooves. That truth remains unwavering with The Errant Charm but it’s worthwhile to point out that such a reputation couldn’t blossom without the band responsible delving into these slow grooves with considerable panache. And that’s precisely what bandleader Andy Cabic saw to, wandering his city of San Francisco’s Richmond District with rough takes and edits of The Errant Charm playing in his ears. The end result is a finessed set of sun-kissed pop songs refined to mirage-like effect; blurs of ambience sprawl beneath ‘It’s Beyond Me’’s poignant raison d’etre while subdued keyboards add to the breezy Byrds-ish jangle of ‘Hard To Break’.

Unsurprisingly, The Errant Charm captures that summery vibe one desires for walking the downtown stretches on a hot afternoon. But defining Vetiver’s fifth LP is the band’s careful ear, which seeks not to milk a good idea dry while recognizing – seemingly from conception – how to keep a mid-tempo record like The Errant Charm from growing tired. Alongside the buoyant support of ‘Wonder Why’ and the druggy skitter of should-be hit ‘Can’t You Tell’, Vetiver artfully emphasizes the benefits of lackadaisical songwriting without drowning listeners in the aural cover-up of reverb and effects. By the time ‘Soft Glass’ closes with an Appalachian-sized stunner, The Errant Charm has morphed from a barbeque-ready FM soundtrack into something more conducive to a lazy afternoon by one’s lonesome. The prospect of such an event sounds better as we age – something I think Andy Cabic knows already.

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