Audio Mixer: Thom Monahan.
Recording information: 262 and Ruminator Audio, San Francisco, CA; Golden Void, Los Angeles, CA.
Starting in 2009 with their album Tight Knit, it's become more and more difficult to hear the pastoral, folky beginnings of Vetiver in their music. That album was a slickly made pop confection and 2011's The Errant Charm drew heavily from '70s soft rock, resulting in something even more easy to digest and also easier to imagine coming from the speakers in the waiting rooms of hip dentists and insurance agents around the nation. Andy Cabic and his main collaborator Thom Monahan continue their quest to chart the ship for the smoothest waters possible on Complete Strangers. Even more than the past two albums, this one has all the rough edges delicately sanded off and then re-covered with the slickest materials possible, whether they are backing vocals that feel like they've been lifted from an Atlanta Rhythm Section album, gentle electronic washes and clipped drum machines, or guitars that are layered so tightly that you couldn't slip one of Stevie Nicks' scarves through them. A couple songs have some of the woozy energy that made previous albums a treat to listen to: "Stranger Still," which opens the album with an epic-length electropop flash, and the chiming folk-rocker "Loose Ends." The rest is relaxed soft rock that anyone alive in the '70s would have no trouble recognizing despite the electronic updates. ~ Tim Sendra