May 20th, 2012 | Album reviews

Watered Lawn

This album is hard to pin down, but I’m finally realizing a pattern here: folks like producer/collaborator Raleigh Moncrief, who might have done booming sets at Low End Theory three years ago opening for Flying Lotus, are getting way more gentle even than the smoothest sample-soul we’ve heard in the recent past. This album starts with a male chorus, echoed finger-snapping, and an occasional flamenco guitar strum—fuck, it could be a spaghetti western ballad (or, more likely, a Spindrift song) if it didn’t also have some electronic beats behind it that become more insistent and dancy as the song progresses. And things ebb in and out of being dance music for the rest of the album. Watered Lawn in its soul is a hip-hop/electronic lullaby spit out with beats and growling keyboards, but its heart is devoted to the acoustic musicianship (even looped handclaps) that Moncrief mastered playing guitar for Zach Hill and various post-rock bands last decade. And hey, is that the human voice I hear? “The Right Idea” almost has the vocal harmonies from the Velvet Underground’s “I Love You,” and the spirit of Brian Wilson’s Pet Sounds and Smile vocal arrangements is probably more prevalent here than it will be on the upcoming reformed Beach Boys tour. True, a lot of this stuff sounds a lot like Baths’ last album, but it avoids Baths’ most ambient chillwave tendencies. And it’s as likely to attract indie rockers as fans as it will the Anticon crowd.

—D.M. Collins