The Caribbean

Discontinued Perfume

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On their sixth album, the Caribbean find themselves in perhaps their strongest sonic mode yet; if the story of the Caribbean, partially conveyed through their lyrics, is the story of experimenting with the creative impulse in ways that are set against both their own pasts and the "regular" world around them, then Discontinued Perfume seeks to capture at least part of that in sound as well. Rather than a chaotic swirl of warm sound -- to sum up what a lot of indie rock as such had seemed to become in 2010 -- there's a sense of exhaustion and emptiness as well, whether it's the mentions of technology with an everyday shrug of resignation on "Mr. Let's Find Out" or the way that "Thank You for Talking to Me About Israel" feels like an acknowledgment of impotence, where the sudden rock-out moment -- the only one like it on the album -- feels intentionally strident and hollow. Singer Michael Kentoff adds to the feeling of distanced unease with his performance, at once sounding clear and direct but unsure if there's anyone listening, making songs like "Collapsitarians" and "Artists in Exile" all the more intriguing to listen to. The opening "Lands and Grooves" is all acoustic guitar and whooshing noises in an album power pop way, in contrast, while the lush shimmers on "Municipal Stadium" are at least immediately warm and inviting, so it's not like Discontinued Perfume is a complete dark night of the soul in sound. But the distanced, sad voices and tones that appear, the echo and the many other touches throughout, suggest that the Caribbean have found themselves in a space carved out by labels like Friendly Noise and acts stuck with a folktronica tag. Yet Discontinued Perfume is something else, an uneasy eye on past, present, and future, waiting to see what's next.

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