taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder

reviews of the moment

VETIVERThe Errant Charm

When I interviewed Vetiver frontman Andy Cabic a couple of years back about his then-forthcoming album Tight Knit, he was a little dismissive of the few Raymond Brake-related inquiries. The jump from playing the Greensboro quartet’s noisy, Chapel Hill-influenced brand of rock to the yacht-y Cali folk was evidently a sore spot even 10 years after the Brake’s demise. The whole scenario was like a group of friends having a falling out, one of them packing up and moving, then adopting a weird new clique right away. Tight Knit saw the remnants of odd tunings and strange song structures that touched his first two Vetiver records fade completely, and what was left was a record by an artist making an unapologetic stab at accessibility. In Vetiver’s latest LP The Errant Charm, Cabic continues the trend of creating music that absolutely does not challenge the listener, yet remains undeniably captivating. Really, it’s a monumental task to create a record this laid back that’s not platitudinous and dull. The Errant Charm feels like a relaxed stroll through peak foliage, a sentiment founded in opener “It’s Beyond Me,” a six-and-a-half-minute swell of lush acoustic guitars, muted percussion and the eventual waves of reverb. Lyrically, The Errant Charm is ultimately undistinguished, though Cabic employs a few devices to make his words feel like something other than just more beats in the easygoing wash. His voice traces the guitar scales on “Worse for Wear” and the peculiar meter in which he sings on the Pet Sounds-inspired pop of “Can’t You Tell” is only curtailed by the hushed vocal mix. He breaks up the album’s woozy monotony with a couple of well-placed blues-rockers of varying intensity. The effervescence of “Soft Glass” is shattered by a pulsating floor tom and the album-ending travelogue “Ride Ride Ride” channels a young Dave Mason. The Errant Charm is a tightly produced treat for a lazy summer that won’t rack the brain; it simply drifts by life a leaf in a stream. It’s pretty and serene, but without a lasting impression.