Album review: Vetiver’s ‘Complete Strangers’ takes a constant path

Andy Cabic is a man who does a lot of his writing on the streets as he passes through the different neighborhoods and parks of his home San Francisco. Ideas percolate and disappear amidst the hum of the city. The path is set based on instinct and feeling rather than a predetermined avenue. His latest offering as Vetiver, the breezy “Complete Strangers,” feels as open-ended as one of his strolls. Cabic is the only constant member of the band in a rotating cast of contributors, this time using Bart Davenport, Gabe Noel and Josh Adams to help construct these songs in the studio, but he once again teamed up with engineer and producer Thom Monahan to carry these songs to their completion. The album is the first in three years from Vetiver and the overall sound has certainly shifted from the jangly folk on its self-titled debut in 2004 to a more electronic pop sound on “Complete Strangers.”
Photo by Terri Loewenthal
Andy Cabic is the steady presence with Vetiver. Photo by Terri Loewenthal
The album opens with the seaside electronica of “Stranger Still.” The song builds around ambient synths and bright keyboards for over two minutes before Cabic’s voice warms up the open space. At over seven minutes, the song eases one into a relaxed trance that is kept up throughout the next nine songs on the album. “Current Carry” is a bubbly pop number as soothing as anything Jack Johnson has put to record and “Backwards Slowly” moves at a pleasant pace, bolstered by warm bass and keyboards. “Time Flies,” with its easy acoustic strumming and flute work, is an airy affair that brings to mind meandering mornings sitting at a coffee shop. “Loose Ends” rolls with the poppy twang of the Byrds and is the loudest and is the most abrasive track on the album, which just points to how unhurried the sound and pace are on “Complete Strangers.” “Complete Stranger” is a pleasant affair, but it doesn’t have the impact as some of Vetiver’s early work. With the exception of “Stranger Still,” the songs on the album all have a similar sonic texture and feel like each song is just a continuation of the previous song. They don’t demand immediate attention or immediate playback. The album is harmonious but it is not exceptional. It is perfect to drift in and out of while doing something else, like going on a walk through San Francisco.  
  • Vetiver ‘Complete Strangers’ Release: March 24, 2015 Label: Easy Sound Recording Co. Notable Tracks: “Stranger Still,” “Current Carry”
  • Purchase: LINK

ABOUT Garrett Bethmann

Garrett Bethmann
Garrett Bethmann is a graduate of University of Mary Washington with a degree in English. An eight-year resident of Lake Tahoe, he now lives in Denver, Colorado.

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