So I’ve not read Indians’ biography. Or at least, I think I read it sometime last year, but I can’t remember what it said. I saw a picture, though! On an advert for a gig – ‘Indians’ appears to be one guy, with fun facial hair. I’d be surprised if he wasn’t American, somewhere in his early to mid-twenties. And he’s signed to 4AD, which I guess still comes with some connotations. And, er, that’s about all I’ve got.
Bar the music, anyway, and that’s the thing – when it comes to the brand of bedroomy dreampop proffered by Indians and their ilk, avoidance of big statements, big emotions and - in general – personality seems so intrinsic that I don't really see what the point in getting to grips with anyone's life story is. I mean, what if Mr Indians was raised by wolves in the woods outside of Bon Iver’s log cabin and, you know, killed a man when he was 14? I guess it’s be a talking point, but I’m not sure it’d give any insight into his gently chiming, lyrically vague bedroom symphonies.
So basically Somewhere Else is about as punk rock as a round of polo. But much as it’s difficult to embrace such anonymous music wholeheartedly, the record has an enjoyable purity – unbound by any sort of baggage, emotional or otherwise, you can appreciate the form, the shape, the craft in the abstract, shorn of any sort of context.
Opener ‘New’ gently ushers itself in on a bed of aqueous chimes reminiscent of the foggy earlier works of Beach House, before Mr Indians slices in with his thin, high voice pleasantly flitting through the hubbub, until somewhere around the song’s midpoint it suddenly soars , the vocals rising into a swell of sound, as the singer declares “I’m always, always too late”… I’m still not sure it means a lot, but it’s unspeakably pretty, and in this dreamily quiescent record, little surges and builds are immaculately deployed, little sonic victories that tingle with the euphoria of songs ten times more bombastic.
And it’s nicely cohesive, pretty, misty songs bound together by a harpsichord-like ringing (heck, it might be a harpsichord!) and the inevitable lush reverb. Beautiful, but I’m not sure you could really pin an emotion onto any of it, or at least not until the final stages, where Somewhere Else finally picks up a bit of pounding abandon with its yearning, gently epic title track.
So yeah, Somewhere Else’s lack of real personality bothers me. But if that’s the way things are heading – for a while at least – then let’s try and relate to our new, anonymous overlords. I mean, I guess personality isn’t always a plus – the also rans of every scene from rock’n’roll to modern chart pop have tended to ‘borrow’ their identities from their scene leaders; maybe the relative isolation of individual musicians these days means they’re not raised in an environment where the adoption of a personality is important for survival. I dunno. Does music need to be attached to a band, to have a guiding personality? Or is all that just packaging to try and sell the music – shouldn’t the existence of the music itself be enough?
Maybe it should. But while there are some lovely sounds on Somewhere Else... but it’s hard not to yearn for something more.
Postscript: so it turns out Mr Indians is in fact a Danish guy called Søren Løkke Juul! Don’t feel this really changes anything, other than it might get the Scandi-pop fetishists excited.
6Andrzej Lukowski's Score