It is fascinating to learn of the origins of Indians, the ‘musical alter ego of Copenhagen resident Søren Løkke Juul’ (as label 4AD puts it), because, after listening to their début LP Somewhere Else, these origins seem fairly apt. The album does have a quite perceptible soundscape, and with vocals, keyboards and guitars washed in a hazy reverb, it does seem suited to a misty Scandinavian ice-field. Surrounded in this atmosphere, the songs take on a kind of abstract beauty, all broken chords and soft falsetto; the kind of inarticulate ‘dream-pop’ which recalls the work of bands like Tame Impala and Beach House.
The problem is, once you strip away the heady miasma of Somewhere Else, the bare songs themselves simply are not good enough. Each addition merely blends into the next, and just when it seems that a song will showcase its importance (like the opening track ‘New’, or the closing title track), the emotional climax halts, and recedes back into the mist. This is a shame given clear evidence of quality song-writing, and the best moments of the album are those in which elements escape the haze: the spritely piano ostinato in ‘Bird’; the unfurling melodic patterns emerging from the background of ‘Magic Kids’; the charming folky guitar of ‘Cakelakers’; or the percussive piano chords appearing unexpectedly halfway through ‘Somewhere Else’. It is to his detriment that Juul seems reluctant to emphasise these examples of song-craft throughout the album; a few more distinguishing features in the songs could turn a good record into a great one.
In all, Indians’ début is a lovely album to listen to, and it certainly works much better when listened to as an album rather than a collection of interchangeable songs. However, aside from as some good noise to spend an hour listening to, Somewhere Else is a record which will quickly seem superfluous to your music collection.