The Caribbean

Moon Sickness

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It's difficult to adequately classify the music made by Washington, D.C. group the Caribbean, and with Moon Sickness, easy reference points or genre distinctions just get farther from view. The band was formed from the ashes of hardcore scene darlings Smart Went Crazy and the Townies, but never adhered to the ethos or grit of D.C. hardcore, nor fully embraced the math rock trends of their late-'90s genus; nor did they veer completely in the other direction and take on a strictly pop approach. Headed by vocalist/lyricist Michael Kentoff, the band has consistently turned in some remarkably obtuse version of pop sounds, heavy on spinning unexpected song structures and chord progressions, as well as Kentoff's always puzzlingly dreamy lyrics. In some ways, Moon Sickness picks up where 2011's Discontinued Perfume left off, letting go of some of that album's uneasiness in exchange for a weird, winding type of spring-like pop sounds. "Electric Bass," with its breezy groove, laid-back vocal delivery, and lilting tremolo guitars, sounds like a distant cousin of Yo La Tengo; but maybe more like the awkward cousin who always wants to talk excitedly about new developments in computer programming at family functions. Songs bubble up with different layers of buried sounds, from the watery electronic glitches that serve as sonic glue for "Sixteen Kingdoms" to random found-sound tape samples to the Van Dyke Parks-ish Mellotron pulses and overdubbed layers of drums on the chorus of "Imitation Air." The album congeals into a ceaseless cycle of strangely constructed songs, often blurring into each other as they go. It takes a few listens to separate one composition from another, but it's not for lack of hooks, and certainly not for lack of wild production moves. When Moon Sickness settles in on fresh ears, the Caribbean's sometimes disorienting take on pop becomes as infectious as it is unique.

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