There’s a lot that just feels so familiar with Somewhere Else, the debut album by Indians (AKA Copenhagen’s Søren Løkke Juul). It’s a record that has been recorded so many times before, one with a heart. Recorded in the Danish countryside during those lazy summer months, you get a distinct feeling the landscape made its impact sonically; the record sounds like wandering through the night in a lush, warm field.
Juul walks a fine line between desperation and faith throughout Somewhere Else. It’s not a bitter album though. Somewhere inside those dreamy psychedelic songs is hope; the sign of a gifted songwriter. Indians is just that.
In today’s world you’re taught to have solid lead-off tracks that will entice a listener to hear more. Juul gives the listener more credit than that. The first two tracks–”New” and “Bird,” respectively–are easily the laziest of the ten. Hidden behind some Casio keyboard beats, it feels like this is Purity Ring part deux, but not in a rip-a-band-off way. Stripping away a song to bare bones takes cajones. It’s bleak, very minimal, and almost impossible to get people to like it. Until…somewhere, the power hits. Juul’s voice lies just east of Bon Iver, and a little west of James Mercer; soft but confident.
“I Am Haunted,” the album’s third track, is where Somewhere Else starts to take shape. A barren track that stands bare-skinned with nothing but a guitar standing between the singer and the listener. The depth becomes apparent, even for such limited instruments. There is a point that the beauty and the subtlety click. The strum-a-long, sing-a-long of “Cakelakers” (Indians’ self-confessed first guitar song) sounds almost out of place. Steeped more in the backwoods of Appalachia than the countryside of The Netherlands, it’s a downhome picker straight from the front porch. ‘Til the strings start, that is. Then it’s transformed into a song that has a bit more substance.
The entire record is a build-up to the final track (also the title track) Somewhere Else, where you are taken on a journey from the intro of Juul’s crooning to the goose bump-inducing finale of repetitive chorus. You don’t need more. It’s a stark contrast to the album, dark but not sinister; dense in emotion but minimalist in music.
It’s an amazing thought that Indians as a musical entity has existed for less than a year. It’s been a whirlwind for Juul. Recording demos, being signed to one of the biggest independent labels there is (4AD), touring non-stop while opening for some of this generation’s greatest bands and releasing a solid debut album. As an album, Somewhere Else speaks in coherent thoughts. It’s not life-affirming. It’s not bone-chilling. And it’s not supposed to be. It’s an album that is supposed to bring a quiet hope. There’s an overall richness that many debuts lack these days. So many bands want to focus on the fuzz and tumble of lo-fi. This record shines without the trickery.