The Errant Charm

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After making their slickest, most easily digestible record to date with 2009’s Tight Knit, Vetiver didn’t turn back to their hazy, rustically psychedelic roots. On the contrary, Andy Cabic and his band took another big step in the direction of radio-ready pop/rock with 2011’s The Errant Charm. Together with longtime producer/collaborator Thom Monahan, Cabic created a completely smooth, totally air-tight sound that could have sounded joyless -- all layered guitars, shimmering keyboards, Tom Petty drums, and lush vocal harmonies -- but turns out to be a wonderfully sweet and pleasant listening experience instead. Framed by a long midtempo classic rock jam at the beginning and two subdued and beautiful ballads at the close, the rest of the record is a bubblegummy, hooky treat. Made up of songs that jangle and bubble, croon and coo, it’s like a seven-song master class on how to make a guitar pop record that looks backwards (to folk-rock, sunshine pop, country-rock, '80s radio pop) but sounds completely modern. Any record that contains a song that sounds like a CCR/Velvets mash-up (“Ride Ride Ride”) or one that chimes as hard as “Wonder Why” is worth a listen. That every song sounds like it would be the highlight of a mixtape means it’s a pretty heady achievement of craft and execution. Through it all, Cabic's vocals are reliably enchanting, his low tones drawing you in and embracing you with warmth. He could probably sing about anything and it would sound good; that he’s written such a strong batch of songs here only makes The Errant Charm better. The only fault one might find is that the album is so slick it could easily fade into the background if you don’t pay attention to the details, but that’s not really a problem if you are able to see the worth of music that can work on two levels. This album works both as music that can take you over and take you up on a cloud of pop, and as mood-enhancing tunes that can fill up the empty room with happy ambience. Either way, it’s an enjoyable, sometimes beautiful, album, one that Vetiver have been working toward since they began.

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