Release Date: Jan 29, 2013
Record label: 4AD
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
IndiansSomewhere Else[4AD; 2013]By Joshua Pickard; February 18, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetCopenhagen strikes again. However, Indians founder and sole permanent member, Søren Løkke Juul, seems far removed from the cathartic punk tendencies of a band like Iceage or the post-rock surge of fellow countrymen Efterklang—though there are some base similarities in some of the latter band’s quieter moments. Displaying a love for all things indie rock, whether it’s the laid-back electronic touches, minimalist folk arrangements, or Juul’s wisp-ish vocals, his debut record as Indians feels like a distant cousin to 2011’s Bon Iver record, though far less obsessed with its own identity.
One of the very best aspects of music is its capacity for escapism, the ability of a piece of music transporting you to another sacred place or time. The music made by Copenhagen songwriter Søren Løkke Juul, who records under the name Indians shares that same special ability and it makes his debut as Indians an album worth treasuring. Somewhere Else is entirely the vision of Løkke Juul, he only started performing as Indians in February of last year but you get the feeling these songs have been gestating in his mind for years and years as he honed them to perfection.
A place where nostalgia and modernism collide, ‘Something Else’ is an album of string-laden, keyboard-heavy folk from a man called Søren Løkke Juul, aka Indians. The Copenhagen dweller initially seemed like a conservative choice for 4AD, a label that’s veered to the leftfield lately with Grimes and Purity Ring. But Søren’s material is both accessible and imbued with left-of-centre detail, such as the strings that crackle and echo like ancient memories under his wholesome vocal.
Fans of late-night vintage PBS fare will recall the quirky vision and pronounced announcements of Jack Horkheimer. He was the astronomy programming guide who wafted above the Milky Ways and the interstellar highways of public television; whose goodness and kindness for all fellow watchers had but a twinge of melancholy about each starry sky. Copenhagen’s Søren Løkke Juul is the musical equivalent of this stargazer, sans Horkheimer’s barking, laughing voice.
Copenhagen's Søren Løkke Juul has endured more than a few Bon Iver comparisons in the short amount of time he's been making music as Indians, but at least it's got nothing to do with his back story. They're loners with facial hair in frigid climates, but that's where the similarities stop: After a decade of being in go-nowhere bands, a YouTube of the 33-year-old Juul's "Magic Kids" started to circulate in part due to a video made with an iPhone camera and some artfully incorporated T&A. It landed him a record deal with 4AD and, consequently, a mandate to actually make this record.
These days, the expectations that come with debut albums are almost taken for granted, and for one from such a prestigious label like 4AD, we would expect nothing less than for the artist in question to at least make an attempt to carve out a space for themselves within the intimidating, overwhelmingly vast universe of music. Yet on his debut album, Danish musician Søren Løkke Juul as Indians defies these expectations, which are only momentarily made to seem traditional, conservative, even trite. Rather, Somewhere Else plays out like a brief, low-key, and at times consciously — or cleverly — unburdened affair, filled with soundscapes that seem as if they’re about to drift into the ether at any moment.
Like Coke and Pepsi, subtlety and slightness occasionally get confused. With his debut, Somewhere Else, Copenhagen singer-songwriter Søren Løkke Juul (aka Indians) embraces the former, delivering a deceptively lush record full of moments of striking beauty. From the adjectives surrounding Juul's effort ("thoughtful," "personal," "nuanced," etc.), it could be superficially mistaken for a singer-songwriter or bedroom record — admittedly, "Bird" does evoke Youth Lagoon.
The debut album from Danish singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Søren Løkke Juul, the one-man band behind Indians, rolls in like fog from the North Sea with the elegiac yet carefully measured opening track "New. " Like much of the dreamy Somewhere Else, its spacious slow build belays its subtle, emotional pyrotechnics ("The war is just outside my door/and I’m going out to win"). Juul's chilly, atmospheric electro-folk fits right in with the current 4AD roster (Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Bon Iver, Grimes, Iron & Wine), but it has a lot more in common with like-minded, eclectic, Copenhagen-bound contemporaries like Choir of Young Believers, Oh No Ono, and Efterklang, all of whom share Indians' penchant for crafting alternately quirky and morose indie pop that's been filtered through the wide angle lens of new wave.
Imagine a cross between the bucolic introspection of Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, Mercury Rev’s haunted Americana circa Deserter’s Songs and All Is Dream, the icy Scandinavian otherness of Sigur Ros, and the synth-led modern chillwave of the xx, and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what to expect from Indians’ debut Somewhere Else. The group is pretty much a one man band, that man being Copenhagen-based Søren Løkke Juul, although the line-up is sometimes augmented to a three-piece for live performances. The album’s title is a true reflection of the sense of wistful longing that pervades these 10 songs.
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.
Copenhagen’s SÃ¸ren LÃ¸kke Juul performed his first show under the moniker Indians in February of 2012, and subsequently signed with the legendary label 4AD. He followed that quick feat by touring in support of the likes of Beirut, Perfume Genius, and Lower Dens. Impressive credentials? Absolutely. But less than a year later, Indians’ debut, Somewhere Else, both frustrates and endears.
Danish artist delivers a stripped-back debut set of enticing ethereality. Mike Diver 2013 Indians makes sense at this time of year. The works of Danish artist Søren Løkke Juul, these songs belong to days where gazing onto a frozen scene from the comfort of a heated home is a fine way to pass time. February in Denmark is the country’s coldest month, with a mean temperature of zero degrees Celsius.
This debut long player from Indians conjures an audio atmosphere that you can hop inside of and stay in for all 45 minutes of it. It’s an album that sounds as though it is looking inwards on the authors rather than acting as an outward look at the world. It’s full of the subtleties, melancholic melodies and spaciousness that make acts such as Bon Iver so engaging.
Given that Indians mastermind Søren Løkke Juul only played his first gig under the name around a year ago, it’s certainly remarkable that his debut album Somewhere Else arrives sounding quite this fully formed and coherent. First records are often blighted by slight missteps and experiments that one can overlook due to the naivety of those behind their recording – it certainly doesn’t mean that greater things can’t follow. But Juul seems very aware of his place in the musical landscape and the function that Indians can perform – this is anything but the sound of a band finding their feet.