One of the earliest reviews I wrote for Mind Equals Blown was for the third full length by From Indian Lakes, Absent Sounds. Knowing the band for its ability to shift between cathartic force and fragile emotion within such a tight scope of sound, it made sense that I would pick up a review for their next record, anticipating it to a reasonable degree. What resulted was a review for a record that kept me hooked from the first listen. At a brisk 35 minutes, Absent Sounds manages to pack in equal parts force and fragility that pushed their sound in a different direction than we had seen previously.
Two years later, From Indian Lakes has gone from a little indie pop up shop in Yosemite to a band to buy into. Receiving positive press from the likes of AV Club and Stereogum, the upside to this project has simply grown well beyond what it was before. With all eyes on what the band has to offer, Everything Feels Better Now takes risks where appropriate and succeeds in the way we’ve grown to expect. Frontman Joey Vannucchi takes From Indian Lakes on another trip through the airy, melodic winds of indie rock goodness, deconstructing his old tricks and infusing them with a new sense of confidence.
At about 48 minutes long, this record bases itself on a lengthier and more expansive platform, one that gives Vannucchi more room to experiment and play around than was available previously. As opposed to production that is primarily guitar-based, these songs have a very earthy and ambient sense to them. “Feel Love” kicks off with building synth, crunchy guitar, and a pounding bass drum, before it transitions itself to a mix of intricate percussive patterns and guitar accents that allow Vannucchi’s tame melodic vocals to fill the track. His voice sits among the song’s moving parts, as opposed to leading things along.
Throughout the album, the songs are not as tightly packed as they were on previous releases, as we find greater allowance for exploring space in a given song. We don’t see as many pounding choruses compared to more open, wading melodies. “Bare It” fills itself with a foggy atmosphere behind light glistening synths and tame vocals that stick to a high register, the track shifting back and forth between minimalist and bare bones percussion. This all hits a head with a guitar solo that transitions to the coda, where Vannucchi repeating “is that enough” over and over, his voice waning with each sequence, to the point of him barely registering beyond a whimper.
If Absent Sounds was an exploration of mountainous space, then Everything Feels Better Now is made for foggy, rainy forests. We find the band moving further away from aggressively powerful choruses and codas, opting for a more mellow, low-key output. The slower take “Come Back” goes on a melancholy synth melody that builds itself into a longer, instrumental coda that relies on the interplay between guitar and percussion, rather than the sort of cathartic range we’ve seen from Vannucchi’s vocals in the past.
That being said, this album doesn’t exactly pack the same concise punch as Absent Sounds. While it stands well on its own merits, in some respects the fact that it’s almost 50 minutes gives it the sense of spinning wheels where they work, rather than cutting off fat where it may have been advantageous to do so. In exploring different degrees of incorporating emotionally sensitive touches, minimalist song construction, and a greater alternative pop ethos, it seems like the band is taking multiple stabs at executing the same tricks. While this does give us a few more solid tracks that fit well enough within the scope of the record, it treads along the lines of filler material to some extent.
For bands that start in the emo circle and find their way out of it, the transition from niche popularity to the broad indie rock circle may prove daunting. There are a certain artistic expectations that sites like Pitchfork and Stereogum look to squeeze out of artists, ones that can push them to really challenge their sound. While groups like The Hotelier and Modern Baseball were primarily emo affairs that caught wind with this bandwagon, From Indian Lakes has made intentional efforts to push themselves further, which has brought the bandwagon to them.
With Everything Feels Better Now destined to receive a degree of attention greater than what the band has previously received, it’s fitting that Joey Vannucchi has taken his talents and tricks and developed them further than he has with previous records. What results is a solid indie rock that seamlessly blends guitar and synth arrangements, experimentation with space, and a mellow, foggy sound, together in such a way that continues to put From Indian Lakes in its own category of execution and poise.
Indie Rock | Triple Crown Records