There is a certain tranquility that you can sense in the face of an old, wise person. You can tell that their wisdom has bestowed upon them not only the knowledge of the truth of life and its fleeting nature, but also the ability to accept their fate as a mortal being and live life fully, without fear of the unknown. These people are able to overcome instinctual trepidation and welcome the Great Mystery with open arms. When listening to Houston-based trio Khruangbin’s recent album The Universe Smiles Upon You, one gets the feeling that they are listening to music composed by people that have the same fundamental understanding of, and calmness about, the strange journey we call life. The album explores one of the band’s primary influences, ‘60s and ‘70s Thai funk (“Khruangbin” means “airplane” in Thai), but also bleeds into soul, surf rock, and jazz.
The entire album has a hazy, dreamy quality to it, with a good chunk of the songs having slower-than-average tempos and sounding like the sonic interpretation of floating on your back in the ocean, basking in the sunlight. Songs like “Two Fish and an Elephant” and “Dern Kala” are pure representations of positivity and relaxation, while “Balls and Pins” and “People Everywhere (Still Alive)” bring real funk energy to the table and might inspire you to get out of the water and go dance with your toes in the sand. Our two favorite tracks on the album “Mr. White” and “White Gloves” have smoky, jazz lounge feels to them, making you want to sit back with a drink and admire the spectacle of life. Khruangbin is one of the most innovative bands on the scene today, bringing together often forgotten genres into a beautiful, enrapturing, mindfulness-inspiring landscape that is both musically intricate and extremely palatable.