That Indians is in fact Copenhagen’s Søren Løkke Juul renders the moniker something of a misnomer though the wistful Scandi songster’s début full-length, Somewhere Else, couldn’t have been better titled. For Somewhere Else is seamless escapism itself – ten tracks spanning forty-five transportive moments, it’s a record to delve into and lose yourself in as though it were some irresistibly thrilling box set or other. Lord knows they’re keen on those, the Danes and similarly, Juul and his countrymen are apparently fortifying their allegiance with revered London indie 4AD, as Indians add themselves to a roster slowly, if surely expanding itself out into the Jutland peninsula and the island of Zealand lying beyond. Somewhere Else arrives only a little more than four months after we were treated to the singular exceptionalism of Efterklang’s Piramida, and swiftly establishes itself as a most worthy successor to all that sweeping grandeur to have gone before it.
Were I ever to be granted a 4AD release, well, I’d quiver at the very thought. The innate pressures would hinder all performance, and most likely make the finalised record out to be a withered shrivel of its original potential. Nonetheless, this quite patently wasn’t to be the case with Somewhere Else, for Juul couldn’t sound more accomplished were each track prefaced by a parping great fanfare led by the inimitable Emanuel Lundgren himself. Sarky quips aside though, Juul is an artist of irreproachable subtlety and although he dabbles with various textures and tones as he daubs his unassuming vocal across various sonic canvases, the result is a recording of unvarnished contrasts which complement one another as much as this cohesive whole is itself meritorious of profuse compliment.
I Am Haunted is as though Bradford Cox bowing amorous ties with an ambiguous other with the shreds of Luke Steele’s perverse Lovers in the warm cushioning of a threadbare, though still snug divan. Reality Sublime, meanwhile, sees Juul embarking upon his best Casablancas impression, which is in turn slathered atop an unmistakably Scandinavian backing – one spawned of that harsh sterility which, quite contradictorily, resonates around a deep-seated warmth as is that which resides down in the caverns of Silent Shout. The consequence is an album which is at once familiar, and yet ultimately unknowable to the outsider – as is his native København to your average, and only gently ignorant globetrotter, I should full well imagine.
It’s that little bit funny, for Somewhere Else is quite manifestly a work of introspective appraisal – the sort Juul felt compelled to make less for the delight of the listener, than out of a cathartic imitation of self-evaluation and a need to pluck from his chest the indwelling confidences of life etcetera. Or, as he idiosyncratically chirrups on the breathtaking Melt, the yearning that “everything just went away/ from the start.” In that respect, were we to pinpoint his closest British contemporary we could do worse than to aim the finger in the general direction of a certain James Blake. Similarly, a transatlantic comparison would surely bring us bang up to Perfume Genius’ bloody red-crossed door. Though if any one song serves to distance Indians from such ineffective juxtaposition, it is its second: Bird.
A lingering piano line begins. Enshrouded by a sense of the spectral, it tenderly sways unaffected and unaccompanied, if only by a distant ticking – the sound of Juul’s fingers tapping away at the keys, most probably. Though rather than tarnish the recording with the touch of the hapless novice, they add gravitas – and above all intimacy – to its wholesome timbres. As Juul’s voice chirps of clambering unspecified hills and similarly unidentified beings flying the coop, it begins to embody solitude itself – threatening to crack as might a newly laid, though unattended egg at any second. The music swells like a teary eye – it’s beautiful. Inspirational, even and so too in its technique does it manage to astound with that same beguiling effortlessness. For it disproves the value of technology, and synthetics and so forth absolutely unaided. It’s organic as the woods composing the piano on which it was played – an encapsulation of nature, and the matchless beauties thereof.
And though these be worldly charms we often opt to contemptibly disregard, that Juul reconnects us with such sensations – if only fleetingly – imbues Somewhere Else not only with a worth, but inaugurates it as the indication toward a secret portal; the almighty X marking the spot beneath which lies in wait a clandestine treasure. Away from the grim monotonies of reality, Indians inhabit a semidetached world away, and one that is most welcoming in its every respect.
Released: January 28th, 2013 [4AD]