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Album Review | Indians soars on debut album ‘Somewhere Else’

New group creatively blurs genres

Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 00:01

“Somewhere Else,” the debut album of the new group Indians, is an eclectic mix of sounds and styles. Favoring sprawling electronic jams as well as more accessible acoustic melodies, Indians’ “Somewhere Else” is a uniquely familiar album that blurs the line between indie pop and contemplative electronica.

Indians is the musical alter ego of Danish singer/songwriter Søren Løkke Juul, who began performing in February 2012 and put out his first single even more recently. At times, Indians’ sound seems derivative of contemporary indie titans and critical darlings like Bon Iver, Youth Lagoon and Beach House. Still, though it may spring from the same source, Indians’ sound is for the most part something new and exciting. Indeed, Indians has isolated the best aspects of the bands it emulates — the delicate vulnerability of Bon Iver, the electronic vibes of Beach House and the unique melodic sounds of Youth Lagoon — and has created a stirring debut album. As a debut album, “Somewhere Else” is a surprisingly mature and fresh perspective on indie and experimental music.

Unfortunately, “Somewhere Else” seems to be an incredible display of Indians’ potential rather than an album with significant musical implications. Certain songs on the album like “Melt,” a soft ode, seem like vague signs of a truly unique sound rather than a fully realized indie song. Juul almost creates something completely singular in the current music scene, but he falls short of pushing this album into the ranks of innovative greats. Indians seems somewhat measured and unsure of its place in the framework of musical conventions and genre. As is not atypical with debut albums, “Somewhere Else” sees Indians still finding its voice and sound. Despite its apparent reserve and introversion, Indians is poised to be the harbinger of a more visceral and genuine type of musical exploration.

There are a few tracks that are especially notable. “Lips Lips Lips,” the fifth song on the ten−track album, begins with a familiar and stark electronic note progression but then turns into a hauntingly beautiful track. Under the guise of simplistic melodies, Indians is able to pack a lot of musical complexity into its songs, and “Lips Lips Lips” aptly displays this skill. Another exciting track is “Cakelakers,” which displays Indians’ variety and versatility quite aptly. A gracefully composed acoustic song, “Cakelakers” is a solidly loveable indie jam, a song that could have easily been included on the soundtrack for “Garden State” (2004). The most touching and, arguably, important song on the album is “Magic Kids.” With a soft and layered melancholy sound, Indians creates a kind of gloomy lullaby that sounds simultaneously effortless and complicated. Lyrics like the touching and relatable “Your eyes do not see me anymore” are sung softly and despondently, urging the listener into a state of dreamy despair.

Indians comes at a time when Scandinavian artists like indie−folk darling The Tallest Man on Earth are dominating the American indie music scene. Both Indians and The Tallest Man on Earth seem to be adopting classically American and western musical styles and creating more exciting and genuine sounds than the western artists who inspired their work as well as their western contemporaries. At a time when stale and repetitive “hipster” conventions have defined the indie music scene, “Somewhere Else” is undoubtedly a breath of fresh air.

Ultimately, Indians has composed an elegant debut album littered with musical complexity, experimentation and tremendous heart. Although Juul still seems somewhat self−conscious, Indians has done something on “Somewhere Else” that many bands fail to achieve in a debut album or in any album at all by challenging the musical conventions of genre and creating fresh sounds and songs that are easy to love. “Somewhere Else” will be released on Jan. 29, but can be streamed now on NPR’s website.

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