Vetiver Tight Knit

[Sub Pop; 2009]

The songs that make up Tight Knit, Vetiver's fourth outing and Sub Pop debut, are soft and comfortable, like a well-worn sweater. It's the kind of music for when you're getting ready to drift off to sleep, music you put on when you don't particularly care what you're listening to, music you hear when you walk into a coffee shop. Twenty or thirty years into the future, after the last of the boomers have been consigned to a nursing home or plot of earth and our generation has consolidated its power once and for all, Tight Knit will be playing in elevators.

Indeed, singer and songwriter Andy Cabic writes songs that are lush and pretty, but they're exemplary of a genre that shuns idiosyncrasy. What exactly is there to set Vetiver apart from the myriad of folksy bluegrass songwriters floating around the indie market? All the qualities that I value in a band -- human drama, a willingness to test the limits of melody, lyrics that expand the vocabulary of rock music, a highly individualized vocal delivery -- I find lacking in Tight Knit. The music settles on simply being pleasant, a goal that aligns well with the raison d'etre of the folk-indie rock genre, but what am I to find compelling about this album?

Cabic has stated that one of his goals for Tight Knit was to create a different mood for each song, and he accomplishes this well enough. Vetiver borrows from other styles of music to evoke a varied atmosphere: “Another Reason to Go” centers around a throbbing bass line that would feel at home in a protracted reggae jam; “Strictly Rule” has the air of a lazy Latin romp; and “More of This” frolics with the kind of plucky guitar and swooping vocal harmonies that a fellow could dance to. All of these tracks function well as pop constructions, but they don't open any new doors for me; they don't dust off any hitherto undiscovered facets of the traditions from which they are drawn.

A connoisseur of contemporary folk may find something to love in Andy Cabic's latest offering. For the rest of us, Tight Knit will likely serve as little more than a relaxing soundtrack to our mid-afternoon siesta.

1. Rolling Sea
2. Sister
3. Everyday
4. Through the Front Door
5. Down from Above
6. On the Other Side
7. More of This
8. Another Reason to Go
9. Strictly Rule
10. At Forest Edge

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