Vetiver Complete Strangers
Published Mar 24, 2015Something clicked for me upon reading that Vetiver's Andy Cabic also does soundtrack work. The San Francisco-based singer-songwriter's textured, melodic music and warmly confiding voice have a way of slipping into the background. Normally I would say that being able to ignore someone's music is a bad thing, but with Vetiver, it's an interesting phenomenon, and often rewarding; it's fit for grooving to on your headphones and as you allow it to absorb into your life.
This is especially true of Complete Strangers. Mellower than its predecessor, 2011's The Errant Charm, Strangers finds Cabic collaborating again with Thom Monahan (who has engineered and co-produced all six Vetiver albums) on 10 tracks that are part ambient L.A. haze, part funky retro lounge and partly something else entirely.
Slow-building opener "Stranger Still" eventually crescendos in a lush Talking Heads-ish drum and keyboard landscape replete with horns, before disintegrating; it doesn't feel like the seven-minute song that it is. Acoustic guitar and organic textures come in for the reflective (and shorter) "From Now On" before giving way to a vintage drum machine on the bubbly and syncopated "Current Carry."
Complete Strangers isn't all easy-breezy good vibes, though: shadows enter on darkly danceable "Confiding" and linger during "Backwards Slowly," a song that withholds its twisting harmonies until about two-thirds of the way through.
The album continues to shoot off in different directions: sharp, jangly tambourine-roots-pop ("Loose Ends"); effervescent nostalgic calypso ("Time Flies," with Devendra Banhart on guitar); weary and reverb-drenched balladry ("Edgar"). It's all stitched together in a way that projects a lazy vibe, while no doubt requiring a crafty underpinning. (Easy Sound)