Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Some of us believe that we've got half a brain about us, more times than not. We feel as if we're somewhat bright and we've got some kind of persistent curiosity that allows us to just keep adding to what we've picked up throughout our lifetime. We sure try. And most of us feel that the more we try to learn, the more we realize we'll never actually know, because there's no end in sight. We are doomed to never be anything that passes for intelligent. It's just like when we buy a new book to read -- even with the best of intentions, psyched on the cover, the author (and his or her jacket photograph), the raised lettering, the innards' typeface -- only to send it off to the morgue of the bookshelf, with all of the other titles we've brought into our home over the years, only to look at them with longing and something akin to embarrassment for believing that we were going to give those poor books some of our limited, often scarce time. We just trail off. We get lost in the other things, even if we never stop collecting more and more information, most of which actually makes us feel like a dumb ass because we're not learning enough at a better clip. We wonder if this sounds at all like a personal or musical struggle for the members of the Washington, D.C., group, The Caribbean.
We wonder if lead singer Michael Kentoff feels caught up in this kind of a race, a moving sidewalk that he's walking down the incorrect way. Once he'd been doing that for long enough, he starts to cup his hand over his yawning mouth, recognizing that this is some sort of a fool's pursuit, trivial and unfair, but he gets wiser nonetheless. There are songs on "Discontinued Perfume," that dive into the current state of affairs, but that doesn't mean that they are all similar to such a face value song as, "Thank You For Talking To Me About Israel." These are songs about the current state of the restless people, those who are emotional about not getting emotional, or living for absurdities to drop by, for the unbelievable to mosey over and throw a big wet lick across their face, just to break them out of the malaise.
The avant garde pop and strange permutations of The Caribbean frames Kentoff's quirky aloofness in a way that makes us hear the smirks in his voice, that makes us understand that he's not downtrodden and he hasn't given up, as much as he is trying to find anything out there to entertain himself with, to shake the tar and the stuffing out of other lonely and tired folks. He sings, "We say forever as if waiting in lines/Provocation for a violent coup/Well, there's no heartbreak at the tower/No reassurance, no rescue/We're needed in 5...4...3...2," on "Mr. Let's Find Out," and it sounds as if we might all becoming okay with a place that we've made, where "the fuck-ups were contagious."