Release Date: Feb 22, 2011
Record label: Hometapes
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Dream Pop, Experimental Rock
The Caribbean’s building-block, artisanal approach to pop music has matured at every step since the band’s first EP was released in 1999. At least since 2004’s William of Orange EP, each recording has felt like a leap forward at first. Then you go back and listen to the record before it, and realize the template was all there, that they never leap as much as grow.
Even when you've already written about them a few times, it's still tough to figure out a clear way to explain a band like the Caribbean. They're so close to being a straightforward indie rock band that it's temping to place them as some sort of prog-pop spin on early Death Cab. But they're not a straightforward indie rock band. They're half that and half something odder.
On their sixth album, the Caribbean find themselves in perhaps their strongest sonic mode yet; if the story of the Caribbean, partially conveyed through their lyrics, is the story of experimenting with the creative impulse in ways that are set against both their own pasts and the "regular" world around them, then Discontinued Perfume seeks to capture at least part of that in sound as well. Rather than a chaotic swirl of warm sound -- to sum up what a lot of indie rock as such had seemed to become in 2010 -- there's a sense of exhaustion and emptiness as well, whether it's the mentions of technology with an everyday shrug of resignation on "Mr. Let's Find Out" or the way that "Thank You for Talking to Me About Israel" feels like an acknowledgment of impotence, where the sudden rock-out moment -- the only one like it on the album -- feels intentionally strident and hollow.
Let’s start with the familiar and use it as a way of accessing the unfamiliar, because at the outset The Caribbean might sound like pretty typical graduates of the late-90s indie school. Think Grandaddy: acoustic guitars whose radiant warmth seems to be setting off whole rooms full of heat-sensitive electronics. Daubs of backward guitars or blurry harpsichords for a bar or two.
The Caribbean is a Washington D.C. trio consisting of Michael Kentoff, Matthew Byars and Dave Jones that play a peculiar brand of understated rock that must be listened to closely in order to hear all of the eccentric stylings and musings. Unfortunately, the unrefined and often out of tune vocals create an obstacle that is nearly impossible to overcome and constitutes a feature that stands out like a sore thumb.