It's been quite a year for Copenhagen based Søren Løkke Juul, aka Indians. Having performed his very first show under the Indians moniker in February 2012, he now finds himself part of an exciting roster of artists at 4AD on the strength of a clutch of high profile support slots and some impressive demos. A quick glance at some of the artists currently releasing records through 4AD demonstrates why they remain one of the most interesting and innovative independent record labels some 34 years after they were established. Bon Iver, Efterklang, St Vincent, The National, Grimes Inc, Deerhunter and Twin Shadow are all part of a diverse and prestigious lineup at 4AD ' enter Indians with this debut album Somewhere Else and it's inevitable that the spotlight will fall on the latest addition to this illustrious stable of acts.
Somewhere Else is a compelling debut - Indians combine chilly, ethereal washes of keyboards and burbling electronics with warm, inviting melodies to give an almost futuristic feel to these often beautiful songs. Comparisons have been drawn with label-mate Bon Iver - Løkke Juul sings in a similarly high register but the similarities end there, as Indians make music that seems less earthbound than Justin Vernon's heartfelt acoustic soul. These songs have something otherworldly about them; they seem to drift past in a cool blue haze 'witness the gorgeous 'Bird', sounding like something Brian Wilson might have conjured up during the Pet Sounds era. 'I Am Haunted' is one of two tracks that incorporate a decidedly low-fi acoustic guitar sound and a melody with a hint of the Beatles psychedelic swirl about it.
Throughout the album, it is the contrast between ethereal, synthetic sounds and the warmth of the vocal melodies that gives this album its unique quality. The songs move at a glacial pace, with drums not featuring heavily on many of the tracks, but Løkke Juul manages to sustain interest over the course of 45 minutes by imbuing these songs with a sparse, melancholy sadness that never feels contrived or forced.
Somewhere Else is no masterpiece, but there is enough here to suggest that given a little more time, Indians are capable of something truly special.
Review by Paul Page