REVIEW: The Caribbean: Verse by Verse
The Caribbean: Verse by Verse [Endearing, 2001] (mp3s)
Three words? perfect pop imperfections
The Carpenters were badass. They were lightweight. They were not challenging or especially experimental. And yet... they were entirely awesome. None of today's pitch-correction and Neptunes remixes can touch the beauty and simplicity of The Carpenters. Despite the fact that The Caribbean sound nothing like anything in Richard and Karen's catalogue of masterpieces, they work for the same reason the Carpenters do: this is pop music that is neither flawless nor complex, just great songs played with heart.
The Caribbean (two guys from the Townies and ex-Smart Went Crazy drummer Tony Dennison) presents us with Verse by Verse, their debut album and all-around impressive excursion. Verse is a collection of funny, deceptively simple pop songs. The upbeat "Front Row at the Rodeo", the charming street-buskerish "Help Would Only Confuse Me" and the much-too-brief "Girl at Fairgrounds" are catchy and unpredictable with mysterious instruments that drop out of the mix and rhythms that dangle like bread trucks on high-wires. "I Am the Mosque" makes a perfect case for the argument that only whistling and echoic drumming are necessary in order to rock. The maraca-fueled "Have You Thought About Turning Pro?" serves as a timely reminder of why you used to love the Super Friendz. But it is the title track - with its minimal piano and maximal ambience - that pulls all of The Caribbean's best attributes together, making it the album's reverberating heartbeat.
While the songs of The Caribbean are lovely, their lethargic nature will prevent them from being the soundtrack to most of your daily activities. The pace is rarely kicked-up and the whispery vocals sound as if recorded at your local library's quiet-study-area in the middle of midterms. This is not the CD you put in your car stereo – it is you new Sunday afternoon album.