For a group that’s only been releasing tunes for five years Vetiver sounds well worn and finely aged. It’s fitting then that their fourth full-length is titled Tight Knit – at this point in their career the band’s rich, polished craft sounds almost familial in its closeness.
If Tight Knit, the band’s first album for Sub Pop, is a departure, it’s an unconventional one. While Vetiver has been ceaselessly touring and recording over the past couple of years, this is their first record of original tunes in three years. After their stunning sophomore release To Find Me Gone, Andy Cabic and Co. focused their attention on honoring material from a host of their heroes. The resulting Thing of the Past album and More of the Past EP was evidence that the band are the rare sort that succeed equally at writing and reinterpretation.
However, Cabic’s impressive record collection has done more than provide fodder for well-chosen covers. His deep knowledge of folk and classic rock, and appreciation for many of the genre’s masters, has provided the schooling for his continued growth as a songwriter. As such, Tight Knit is more refinement than reinvention, continuing where To Find Me Gone left off. As with the earlier record, the songs here alternate between gentle California folk and easy livin’ rock ’n’ roll.
“Rolling Sea” is a stretched, slow-burning epic, gentle and wave-lulled; a fine soundtrack to sitting topside in the sun watching sails flap. “Sister” is similarly tender, a pop song slowed to the pace of a babbling brook. “At Forest Edge” closes the record with a wrap of misty psychedelic folk complete with tripped-out call-and-response vocals.
When the band shakes off the napping-in-the-shade vibe, they bring some of their most overtly pop-oriented material. Fellow Sub Popper Eric Johnson, of the Fruit Bats, joins in on the album and his laconic melodies clearly influence the swaying “Everyday.” “More of This” boogies with punctuated shots of guitar and a rolling bass solo breakdown. “Another Reason to Go” drudges up some serious muck for a swampy, Southern funk, punctuated by horn bleats and a loping, thick-waisted bassline.
On the surface, Tight Knit may sound like more of the same for Vetiver, and thankfully so. While the band reaches a bit further than previously, they are careful not to stretch too far, focusing instead on the continued refinement of their position as rock’s youngest elder statesmen.