Vetiver: Tight Knit
Paid for by Committee to Reelect Judge North, P.O. Box 27113, Seattle, WA 98165
The perpetual juvenile in me (every rock critic has one!) still imagines Sub Pop's grunge-era icons rolling over in their pop-culture graves at the thought of the label's current roster of soft-rocking folk. (In fact, sadly, several surviving SP old-timers, in recent interviews with The Stranger and elsewhere, have been totally nice and reasonable about it, suggesting that it's possible to like both hard rock and folk, which is like, whatever, sellouts.) In any case, the latest addition to Sub Pop's mellowed modern stable are Vetiver: the band of one Andy Cabic, whose recent duties have also included playing bass with disco punks Tussle and guitar for Devendra Banhart.
With Vetiver, Cabic leans more toward the latter of those gigs, although his folk singing is less willfully weird than that of his pal Banhart—Tight Knit, his fourth record with Vetiver and first for Sub Pop, is a fairly straightforward and satisfying folk-pop record.
Cabic's voice and guitar form the core of Tight Knit's songs, but he surrounds himself with other instrumentation—keys, drums, bass, strings, and horns—sometimes played by him, sometimes played by his live bandmates and friends. Lyrically, it's all pretty typical rambling-man territory—"Rolling Sea" is a Pacific pastoral that's more bohemian privileged than freaky primitive ("Wouldn't you like to be/Out on the rolling sea?... What if your friends were there/Laugh at all your jokes and share/Sweet solitaire with you?"); the jangling, sunny stepping of "Everyday" daydreams of a far-away lover ("I can't make you appear/While I'm away/Just know I play this song for you/And wait/Wait for me now")—but the simple, easy songwriting and perfectly no-frills production are undeniably pleasant, and Cabic can hold a note on his breath and let it go like a breeze, barely there but subtly affecting.
Tight Knit is so subtle, in fact, that after several listens, I fear I still haven't felt the album's full potential impact. Perhaps some more "slow listening" is in order.