Vetiver’s Andy Cabic has a reputation for making music that’s gentle, laid back, and almost always custom fit for sunny summer weekend afternoons. The man knows chill, despite having introduced his band via a debut chock full of freak-folk and dream-pop all stars, his output since then proving it as an outlier among a body of work marked by subtly psychedelic and frequently beautiful folk-pop. Yet one thing that Vetiver has never been is boring or sleepy; though albums like To Find Me Gone and Tight Knit have their moments of sparse, sometimes barely there folk tracks, they also boast songs like “You May Be Blue” and “Another Reason to Go,” which go the distance in proving that indie folk can, indeed, boast some legitimate jams.
On Vetiver’s fourth album of original material, The Errant Charm, Cabic holds firm to his long established penchant for warm and breezy acoustic pop, rarely craning his neck above a perpetual head-nodding groove. And the band, as their last few records have shown, are exceptionally good at turning out these reverb-laden feelgood earth tones. A track such as “Worse For Wear,” despite being delicately pretty, may not be much of a head-turner, but six-minute opener “It’s Beyond Me” most certainly is, its mesmerizing melody awash with soft psychedelic layers, building up to one of the band’s most gorgeous arrangements.
Though Vetiver would rarely indulge in, say, garage punk, there are no doubt a good number of stylistic surprises to be found on The Errant Charm. The band plugs in for some Fleetwood Mac-style jangle on “Hard to Break,” and even backs the summery glow of “Can’t You Tell” with danceable drum machine beats, brilliantly underscoring the infectious wash of organ that dominates the song. The Tom Petty-style folk-pop of “Right Away” slowly emerges to a climactic stomp in its final minute, while “Wonder Why” is the most straightforward pop tune here, the kind of college rock shimmer that would have made for a classic American underground single in the ’80s, yet stands as a fresh and irresistible highlight almost three decades after Murmur. And “Ride Ride Ride” marks the album’s most rock ‘n’ roll moment, sounding like a hybrid of “Fortunate Son” and “I’m Waiting For the Man.”
There’s a streamlined, taut feel to The Errant Charm, though that doesn’t get in the way of the easy vibes it emits all around. But it nonetheless stands as another stellar chapter in Vetiver’s discography. Cabic & Co. are churning out some of the best pop songs of their career, and they hardly sound like they’re breaking a sweat.
Video: Vetiver – “Wonder Why”
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.