I’ve always found Vetiver a bit colourless. That’s a strange way to start, I know. There’s nothing offensive about Andy Cabic’s music at all… It’s more the fact that that it isn’t that’s troubled me. Clearly though, that’s not the point. The point is that I felt each album over the past 7 years has blended into the next with only rare hints of any progression or digression.
So then, with that in mind, you’d probably think that I’m the worst person imaginable to review a Vetiver album. Well maybe, but definitely not for that reason.
The Errant Charm is so different from any other Vetiver album before it, that if you were to mentally line-up them all up, it would stick out like Danny De Vito at a Batman audition. Its ‘Errant’ inclusive title hints at it, but it’s the surprisingly breezy pop that has you wondering whether this could be just a one-off, concept-without-the-concept album.
Inane comparisons and future intentions aside, this album on its own is a beautifully realised set of songs that are anything but colourless. Cabic has created something infectiously summery and laid back here without going fully horizontal. The tone is set from the onset of ‘It’s Beyond Me’, but it’s from ‘Cant You Tell’ until the peak of ‘Wonder Why’ that it cranks up the sunshine to levels only previously known to Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff.
That’s not to say that if you spit at the feet of rainbows and/or want more of Vetiver’s own brand of pop, that there’s nothing here for you. ‘Hard to Tell’ is a lot more direct and traditionally Vetiver-like than anything, while ‘Ride Ride Ride’ cranks up the classic rock meter all the way up to 3. Within the context of The Errant Charm’s otherwise tranquil serenity, it feels more like a 7 though.
There’s something inherently old in The Errant Charm without the use of any cheap gimmicks or blunt homages to the past. You would have to take very little away before you could outlandishly lie about this album actually having been released in the ’60s or ’70s. The combination of natural and light electronica is so sympathetically produced, that, if we want to get properly convoluted about it, sounds like a drowsy Beck being produced by Air on a Tuesday, or something.
The result, as you would imagine, is an album that absolutely feeds your happiness in the same way that watching a feel-good film, awakening to a sunny day, or running naked through a meadow would make you feel. In The Errant Charm, Cabic has definitely kept his folk-rock shoes on, yet by reigning in the folk and reaching out to a new subtlety and warmth, Vetiver have forged an album that is their best. As the title suggests, this may turn out to be errant, but for now it’s fresh, interesting, and entirely welcomed.
SOUNDS LIKE: Beck produced by Air
BEST TRACKS: ‘Wonder Why’, ‘Right Away’, ‘Cant You Tell’ Vetiver are currently touring Europe, with the U.K stint of their tour due to start, somewhat curiously in Bedford on 25 June. Their album is out on Bella Union records now.
Heard Vetiver’s new album? Let us know what you think!