Album Review: Indians – Somewhere Else
OverviewGenre: Acoustic, Folk, Indie
Pros:Lush, warm, echoing musical embraces abound
Cons:At times derivative and lacks cohesion. The studio adornments on what are ostensibly folky numbers can feel heavy-handed
Indians moves from the back porch to the recording studio in a debut rich in warm tones but lacking in… just lacking.
Søren Løkke Juul finds himself in impeccable company as a recent signing to the 4AD label. Going under the moniker Indians, the Copenhagen native specialises in a type of hazy, reverb-drenched trip somewhere between Lower Dens and Melody’s Echo Chamber. This début release sees Juul take the opportunity to use the studio to his full advantage, coating each song in doleful echo and effect.
A rich organ sound opens the album; ‘New’ sees Juul’s dual vocal playfully entwine and detach from itself, a shadow of Mercury Rev cast overhead before ‘Bird’ swoops in. Bowie-esque in its delivery, it displays Juul’s knack for a subtle ascension within a melody. He uses this trick to nice effect on the upward vocal inflections of ‘Melt’ while throughout, the album is a warm-textured experience despite the synths that pervade.
Dance beats surface and recede from time to time, threatening to pull a song out of its languor but never quite gaining the upper hand. A drumbeat emerges from ‘La Femme’ and immediately transforms it from a lush lament to another thing entirely. The ‘Penny Lane’ melody of ‘Lips, Lips, Lips’ is punctuated by deep, percussive bass, while the odd mid-album interjection of a techno-inflected ‘Reality Sublime’ invokes the four elements – ‘Under the sea / Everything flows/ Drifting away/ Place unknown’ – organic subject matter encased in a synthetic outline.
A sweet malaise infects Somewhere Else, and it is when Juul keeps proceeding languid and woozy that the album settles into a satisfying fugue. ‘I Am Haunted’ is acoustic with a muted, fogged sensation, gathering both in momentum and vocal layers after the midway point. The orchestral synth of ‘Magic Kids’ gently spills from the ether to form a loose canvas for the airy layers of vocal to adorn, and some tracks appear not unlike certain of the phased acoustic meanderings of Animal Collective. Juul’s folky strumming on ‘Cakelakers’ screams conventional, until heading along magical detours before reverting back to form.
The flow of the album never quite settles into something fully cohesive. It is on the more stripped back numbers that the songwriting shines through and the at times obtrusive studio embellishments are reined in. While a pleasant way to spend some quality headphone time, there isn’t much to raise Somewhere Else above the rash of recent exponents of this type of dreamy mooching. As with most things in life it can be summed up by a quote from The Wire – ‘That’s like a 40-degree day. Ain’t nobody got nothing to say about a 40-degree day.’