Release Date: Mar 24, 2015
Record label: Easy Sound
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk
For over a decade Vetiver has essentially been the vehicle for Andy Cabic to gently pursue his own form of understated musical exploration. He may not have been the most prolific of artists and not one prone to radical reinvention, but sixth album Complete Strangers confirms the small incremental progressions that each album has brought. It also shows his music to be moving in an increasingly harmonious and almost mainstream direction.
Vetiver, aka Andy Cabic, composed Complete Strangers to the rhythm of his own footsteps. As he walked the Silicon-paved streets of San Francisco, the seeds of his first offering in five years sprouted and matured. Cabic describes the LP as a work of transition and duality, where “sunshine is only a chord away from melancholy.” Throughout Complete Strangers, the expansive arrangements of producer Thom Monahan (Devendra Banhart, Beachwood Sparks) frame Cabic’s soothing vocals, enriching its 10 tracks with weight and energy.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. "Silence relieves me / Speaks when I can't / tells me when it's getting out of hand. .
Earnestness it a tough trick to pull off in 2015, when listeners seem to prefer artists who remain gleefully uncommitted to any particular worldview. If you do intend to convey something earnest, the preferred method of production seems—hmm—washy. You know, where the lyrics are kind of hard to decipher, and occasionally one pokes its head through and gives you something true enough to hang onto.
With Complete Strangers, Vetiver, essentially now a solo vehicle for singer/songwriter Andy Cabic, complete the transition from being one of the prime movers associated with the unfortunately named “freak folk” movement of the early ‘00s to the Americana-flecked, contemporary indie-pop act that their 2009 Sub Pop debut, Tight Knit, suggested they were heading towards. Gone entirely are the dusty folk textures from the Devendra Banhart-era Vetiver, as Cabic has introduced some even newer elements to his sound here on Complete Strangers, with a few songs containing lite-Latin and lite-funk touches that actually suit current-day Vetiver’s electric sound quite well. But the keyword in regards to Strangers is neither latin nor funk, but “lite”, as the album is so breezy and weightless that the whole affair is often in danger of dissipating right before the listeners ears.
Starting in 2009 with their album Tight Knit, it's become more and more difficult to hear the pastoral, folky beginnings of Vetiver in their music. That album was a slickly made pop confection and 2011's The Errant Charm drew heavily from '70s soft rock, resulting in something even more easy to digest and also easier to imagine coming from the speakers in the waiting rooms of slightly hip dentists and insurance agents around the nation. Andy Cabic and his main collaborator Thom Monahan continue their quest to chart the ship for the smoothest waters possible on Complete Strangers.
The voice of Vetiver leader Andy Cabic doesn’t enter Complete Strangers, the project’s sixth album, for more than 100 seconds. Instead, refracted guitars, neon keyboards, and muffled saxophones percolate around a padded house beat and a drum kit’s gentle kick. A half-dozen players rise steadily into a krautrock-like sprawl, their textures swirling around the constant thump.
We’re living in a musical golden age, and don’t let any fucker tell you otherwise. Yet despite the constant flow of inventive, inclusive and generally wondrous tunes we have the privilege of feasting upon on a daily basis, there’s a heavy weight on the shoulders of the alternative scene - and that, friends, is the bluster of grandiose arena indie. Swaggering about the place, blowing the bloody roof off outdoor venues, putting their arms in the air and sometimes swinging a funny little lightbulb about on a string; when our most successful “alternative” bands aren’t frantically wanking their instruments like a thirsty, thirsty Brian May, they’re tossing out emotional lyrical platitudes in order to gather as many of the lowest common denominator music haters they can in their vast, evil, sensitive schmindie claws; One would hope in order to dump them in an active volcano; but no, they are gently plopped at the merch stand with the fanfare of a major chord chorus.