Album Of The Week

Album Of The Week: From Indian Lakes Head Void

little shuteye
little shuteye

My body instantly locks in with the driving drumbeat — my pulse, my breathing, the insatiable urge to bop along. The guitar chords ripple and shimmer, and a tail of colorful dissolving static seems to follow every steady strum. The music feels plastic and brittle yet glows like a neon sign, blurring together the organic and synthetic into something grimy and hyperreal. It carries on in this alluring state for about 15 seconds. Then, after a brief pause, the bass drops, Joey Vannucchi’s grizzled vocals enter the frame, and that bleary, distant beauty shifts to the foreground, its undertow now so powerful that I’m instantly swept away.

“The Flow” is mesmerizing. It’s electrifying. It’s one of those tracks that snaps you to attention, rewires your brain, and makes you an instant fan. So it went two months ago when From Indian Lakes made their grand return after half a decade away. It didn’t matter that I had no history with the band, no context for their music beyond what I could infer, no knowledge of Vannucchi’s backstory growing up surrounded by the California wilderness. All that mattered was that I was caught up in “The Flow,” that this song — about getting stuck in unhealthy patterns and fixations — was in fact carrying me somewhere good.

Ultimately it led to Head Void, Vannucchi’s sixth album as From Indian Lakes. Out this week, it marks his return to the project after five years releasing a wealth of softer, woozier music as Joe Vann. The From Indian Lakes project has evolved in fascinating ways since Vannucchi created the MySpace profile Songs From Indian Lakes in the late 2000s. His earliest albums were shaded with Brand New’s darkly epic emo, the downcast splendor of Death Cab For Cutie, and various Christian-adjacent post-hardcore acts — a fitting canvas for skeptically dissecting the contours of faith. Ever since, From Indian Lakes have evolved in a dreamier direction, incorporating elements of modern shoegaze paragons like DIIV and Nothing and even some traces of chillwave while maintaining vestiges of their emo origins. Their most recent LP, 2019’s Dimly Lit, found Vannucchi edging toward the hypnotic chugging rhythms that course all throughout Head Void.

Not that every song on the new album anxiously percolates like “The Flow.” Opener “Water” is more of a shimmering post-rock slow drift. “Hold Me Down” plaintively pounds and plods. “Shrine” glimmers gorgeously, as if suspended in midair, while “The Wilderness” creeps along the surface at a grungy gait en route to its brightly flaring refrains. Yet even the slower songs tap into a common vibe, a grainy, holographic rendering of the melancholia that Vannucchi spends most of the album trying to outrun. Often, that chase does play out in the form of hard-charging backbeats that give the songs a contagious momentum, as heard on another exceptional single, “The Lines,” and on tracks like the fervently driving shoegazer “Holy,” the Radiohead-indebted “I Lay Different,” and the jangly, propulsive “Spilling Over.”

Riding the jetstream of these tracks is Vannucchi’s softly rasping tenor, sometimes joined by a chorus of voices that come off like gang-chanting ghosts. His voice is perfectly suited to the texture of the music, beautiful but distressed. As closer “Keep Me” glides toward the horizon like an Alcest song, he dips into his lower register and uncovers a smooth, ethereal sound that transports From Indian Lakes to a slightly different dimension. Vannucchi makes a compelling narrator, pained but resilient, and unlike some shoegazers you can usually make out what he’s singing about.

There’s a fair amount of love, sex, and heartbreak in there, as well as what reads like religious disenchantment. Sometimes it’s not totally clear which of those subjects is in view: “Every step that I pass by/ Is further out from your sunshine now/ Every sip of dirty water/ Is filtered out through your stained glass.” Frequently Vannucchi turns to vivid, physical imagery to convey these sensations. He sings of tearing off skin, of pulling out eyes, of breathing air deep into his soul, of his essence filling up and spilling over. The language is poetic and thought-provoking, not opaque but leaving much to the imagination.

After diving into From Indian Lakes 10 tracks at a time, “The Flow” remains Head Void’s most powerfully kinetic track, an instant entry in my personal pantheon. I often find myself spinning it on repeat. But this is not one of those awkward scenarios where one stellar track props up an otherwise disappointing LP. After all those years away from the From Indian Lakes moniker, Vannucchi clearly caught a wave of inspiration here, ending up with an entrancing, rewarding body of work. You could jump in just about anywhere on the tracklist and be caught up in the current.

Head Void is out 5/15 on little shuteye.

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Other albums of note out this week:
• Billie Eilish’s Hit Me Hard And Soft
• Shellac’s To All Trains
• Beth Gibbons’ Lives Outgrown
• Mach-Hommy’s #Richaxxhaitian
• Pallbearer’s Mind Burns Alive
• Lip Critic’s Hex Dealer
• Alex G’s I Saw The TV Glow original score
• The A24-curated Everyone’s Getting Involved: A Tribute To Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense
• of Montreal’s Lady On The Cusp
• Gatecreeper’s Dark Superstition
• One Step Closer’s All You Embrace
• Isobel Campbell’s Bow To Love
• Ani DiFranco’s BJ Burton-produced Unprecedented Sh!t
• Guppy’s Something Is Happening…
• Zero Point Energy’s Titled Planet
• Slash’s Orgy Of The Damned
• John Oates’ Reunion
• Idaho’s Lapse
• SQÜRL’s Music For Man Ray
• Carb On Carb’s Take Time
• The Avett Brothers’ The Avett Brothers
• Alan Braufman’s Infinite Love Infinite Tears
• Kerry King’s From Hell I Rise
• Blitzen Trapper’s 100’s Of 1000’s, Millions Of Billions
• New Kids On The Block’s Still Kids
• Bootlicker’s 1000 Yd. Stare
• Declatel’s Where The Pieces Came From
• The late Sonya Cohen Cramer’s You’ve Been A Friend To Me
• Kate Hudson’s Glorious
• Ghostly Kisses’ Darkroom
• Cold Hart’s Pretty In The Dark
• GOBLYNs’ Hunki Bobo
• Bright Light Bright Light’s Enjoy Youth
• Morgan Garrett’s Purity
• Jeremy Camp’s Deeper Waters
• Laura J Martin’s Prepared
• Kaia Kater’s Strange Medicine
• The Lovely Eggs’ Eggistentialism
• Winter Aid’s Pull The Sky Inside
• J. Bernardt’s Contigo
• Guster’s Ooh La La
• Dylan Chambers’ For Your Listening Pleasure!
• Cage The Elephant’s Neon Pill
• Collective Soul’s double album Here To Eternity
• SECRECIEs’ Perfect Bite
• Spencer Thomas’ The Joke Of Life
• Little Feat’s Sam’s Place
• Candy Apple’s Comatose
• Marty Friedman’s Drama
• OMSORG’s Echoes EP
• Sasha Alex Sloan’s Me Again
• Zayn’s Room Under The Stars
• Rapsody’s Please Don’t Cry
• Ufomammut’s Hidden
• Crumb’s AMAMA
• M Wagner’s We Could Stay
• Multiples’ Two Hours Or Something
• Matamoska’s Matamoska
• Joshua Moshier’s Semipermanence
• Sock’s 3243
• Ward White’s Here Come The Dowsers
• Alessandro “Asso” Stefana’s Alessandro “Asso” Stefana
• Church Andrews & Matt Davies’ Yucca
• Phoebe Go’s Marmalade
• Dog Party’s Dangerous
• Tzompantli’s Beating The Drums Of Ancestral Force
• Henry Kane’s Circle Of Pain
• Ana Egge’s Sharing In The Spirit
• Untight’s Fair
• Matthew Mayfield’s PRIZEFIGHTER
• Malvina’s Mercedes
• Mia Day’s Hellier, Forever
• Thomas Powers’ A Tyrant Crying In Private
• Sid Simons’ Beneath The Brightest Smiles
• Animal, Surrender!’s Animal, Surrender!
• PAIN’s I Am
• Terre Roche’s INNER ADULT
• Flesh Car’s Flesh Car
• Lightheaded’s Combustible Gems
• i Häxa’s Part 2
• Altar Of Gore’s Litanies Of The Unceasing Agonies
• Early Internet’s Ruminator
• Nocturnus AD’s Unicursal
• ahem’s Avoider
• China Forbes’ The Road
• Laci Kaye Booth’s The Loneliest Girl In The World
• Zig Zags’ Strange Masters
• Jennifer Tefft & The Strange’s Strange Beginnings
• Long Distance Love’s A Sweet Relief Tribute To Lowell George
• Sylvan Esso’s Sylvan Esso (10 Year Anniversary Edition)
• Modest Mouse’s Good News For People Who Love Bad News: 20th Anniversary Expanded Edition
renforshort’s clean hands dirty water
• Draag’s Actually, the quiet is nice EP
• Pardoner’s Paranoid In Hell EP
• Charlotte Cardin’s A Week In Nashville EP
• The Band CAMINO’s Bruises EP
• Mutant Academy’s TALK SOON EP
• Bella Rios’ Sincerely, EP
• GRADIENCE’s Ironsight EP
• LULU.’s Dear Disorientated Soul EP
• Wu-Lu’s Learning To Swim On Empty EP
• System Olympia’s Sanctified EP

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