Tight Knit has more in common with grass, Vetiver’s namesake, than front-man Andy Cabic could have ever hoped. Its almost imperceptible growth gets mowed down periodically. It’s best when there’s smoking involved. And — in a world where bearded men are doing the indie-Woodstock thing just across the fence — the other side is always greener. This fourth Vetiver project proves that having once-upon-a-time collaborated with Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart does not make you deserving of a freak-folk label. In fact, the only thing freaky about the album is the instant REM cycle induced by Cabic’s whispered falsetto, an unrelenting haziness and the fading in and out of each track.
If anything can interrupt this fitful California dreamin’, it’s the horn section in “Another Reason to Go,” or maybe the nagging question of whether or not a Casio keyboard was responsible for the electro-pop “Strictly Rule.” Beach bums everywhere will add “Everyday” and “More of This” (which channel Jack Johnson and The Shins, respectively) to their Summer Jamz 2K9 playlists, but it is in the mellow folk sound of “Rolling Sea” and “At Forest’s Edge” (the album’s first and last tracks) that Cabic flexes his singer-songwriter muscles. There is undeniable talent here, manifested in wistful vocal harmonies and a polished sound that points to the band’s maturation since Thing of the Past (2008). A couple of years ago Tight Knit may have hit the indie pool with a bigger splash (still no belly-flop, but not a perfect dive either). However, like the syncopated “On the Other Side,” Cabic’s timing is just a little off.
Hometown: Greensboro, North Carolina Release Date: Feb. 17 Label: Sub-Pop Sounds Like: Jack Johnson and Paul Simon on uppers Sounds Best When: You’re tired of banana pancakes 99-Cent Budget Choice: “At Forest Edge”