Hailing from Washington D.C, The Caribbean are a trio that are, in the words of the singer, Michael Kentoff “pop music fans who, in an attempt to personalize and humanize the experience, have crossed over into experimental music or art rock rather by accident”.
As with anything that involves the word Art, their new album Discontinued Perfume holds its beauty in the eyes, or in this case, ears, of the beholder. The somewhat progressive, psychedelic-folk album, out in February this year, is the follow-up to Populations and the band’s fourth album released on the Hometapes label.
Discontinued Perfume is not an album for those who aren’t up for a musical challenge; their songs feel similar to a jigsaw puzzle and you need to put the pieces together, but unfortunately it seems there are some big pieces missing on this album.
The band set the tone from the first track ‘Lands and Grooves’ with Michael’s soothing, yet twangy voice and healthy doses of experimental instrumentation. And as with many other tracks on the album, the experimentation can end up getting in the way of songs that could have been better. For example, the second track ‘Mr. Let’s Find Out’ is a perfectly good song with an easy-going vibe, but loses its way with the obscure, computerized backing vocals.
In songs like ‘The Clock Tower’, ‘Collapsitarians’ and ‘Outskirts’, parts and sounds will sometimes jump out as if they don’t belong and perhaps they are there for the sake of production.
As the album progresses, the band do little to grab the attention of the listener, weaving in and out of songs with similar melodies and familiar beats, following the same formulas. We begin to see this is an album less about the beauty and simplicity that a collection of songs can offer, and more a chorus-less test of production boundaries. And with lyrics that go from the surreal to day-to-day activities, focusing more on imagery than message, it’s easy to feel like you’re being led in a musical circle.
‘Discontinued Perfume’, the song that names the album, feels like it has more focus. A slower track with a solid groove, it features angelic acoustic guitar, routed in jazz and the sweet tones of a guest female vocalist. The band are clearly good at what they do, but the album feels saturated with ideas and lacks the songs to back it up.
Released on 22nd February 2011 courtesy of Hometapes