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Vacationer – Gone March 30, 2012

Posted by gwyoung in Album Reviews, Music.
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Artist: Vacationer

Album: Gone

Release: Downtown Records, 2012

Genre: Pop

RIYD: Vampire Weekend, Beach House, Jinja Safari

On my year-end list for 2011, I included three different albums that are all participating in the recent insurgence of afro-beat into indie music, an epidemic most likely spurred off of Vampire Weekend’s self-titled release back in 2008, who in turn revived it from the days of Paul Simon’s Graceland. Bands such as Givers, Jinja Safari, and Delicate Steve, like Vampire Weekend did before they went electronic, all make music that sounds like it could soundtrack a new Lion King movie, but at the same time each approaches that sound from a drastically different viewpoint to create something unique and interesting in spite of all the shared influences.

I’m happy to say that this emerging pattern is continuing into 2012, not just with the highly-anticipated (at least by me) sophomore album from Delicate Steve coming in May, but also with new artists, such as the charming Vacationer. Their debut LP, Gone, contains several similarities to the aforementioned musicians, such as the Ezra Koenig-like lead vocals, the Jinja Safari-style back-up “oohs” and “ahhs”, and the general feeling of warmth and relaxation that one might experience during a trip to the watering hole in The Lion King. However, in addition to the strong sense of melody shared with Vampire Weekend and Givers, Vacationer’s work also incorporates a strong sense of atmosphere: the songs on Gone all embody a floating, carefree sensation similar to that popularized by Beach House’s 2010 dream-pop masterpiece, Teen Dream. In fact, as a self-professed “nu-hula” band, they perfectly capture the essence of relaxing on one of Hawaii’s beaches.

Drawing all of these comparisons and influences may imply that Vacationer is not the most original of acts to emerge in 2012, and that statement is definitely true. However, I think similarity is excusable when its executed well, and that’s exactly what Vacationer does on Gone. These songs are tightly structured with catchy melodies and soothing sounds, and span the range from the light and energetic (“Dreamlike”) to the gentle, lazy (“No Rules”) and finishing with the sweet and sentimental (“Be With You”). Vacationer doesn’t try to break down any barriers or defy any expectations for what music should and shouldn’t do, but instead aim to prove that making an album that’s extraordinarily pleasing to listen to is never a crime. Gone certainly does this, and with it Vacationer add themselves to a list of contemporaries who are making great indie music with increasingly globalized styles.

Consistent with their band name and worldwide influences, Vacationer designed their website around soundtracking your travels to foreign lands. Just enter a destination, and you’ll be treated to a beautiful video collage of the locale with one of the eleven excellent album cuts as your audio backdrop. The video below, for highlight “Be With You”, is an example:

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