Idiosyncratic indie rock that gets under your skin.
After discovering the quirky nature of Indigo Birds last year, the French quartet has released the first wonderfully weird and catchy album of 2022. “The Influence of Loneliness” showcases everything great about French indie rock. It isn’t afraid to mix things up, go a bit nuts or completely commit to a feeling or style. For that, Indigo Birds deserve your time and your ears.
For instance, take “A Shark In Da Pool”. It is heavily electro-rock focused with a cyber-punk horror vibe that reminds me of the Knight Rider TV show. A strong bassy hook and warped vocoder vocals build up dread and tension only for it to transition to a few softer rock moments. The track is all about putting on a brave face and when the fake smile occurs in the lyrics, the music switches mood too. Single “Burned” offers a more indie pop focused vibe that brings harsher more singed drums, organs and guitars as the song burns deeper and deeper. The way how Indigo Birds translate their music production to support their lyrics and musical intent is superb. It’s something they do continuously across the album and it synergises music and lyric.
There are plenty of musical hooks too but they come from constantly surprising places. “Cockfighter” is like a Peter Gabriel lost track. The big drums and chunky synths create a rhythmic cycle like a respiratory system and the whole song is underpinned by an Aboriginal hum. I wasn’t expecting Lion King the indie-pop anthem but we have it and it’s glorious. “In A Jar” takes the pulsation synth hook from Sandstorm by Darude (yes that dance song) and slows it down to a haunted warning siren. Then Indigo Birds play a dilapidated rock piece over the top and it sounds like a party that’s stalled out. “Noises” is a bombastic rock track that has a Muse-like chorus where the chords and vocals evoke a pang of dread. At the same time, the bassline is funky as hell and so you want to dance but have a mental crisis at the same time. It’s definitely the album’s vibe as tracks consistently hit the catchy-but-dark goal. Take the dance-rock of “Last Night I Dreamt About You”. It has a decidedly French indie dance groove with chirpy guitars but the vocals have a distressed element to them, especially in the chorus.
The second half of the album is a little less indie pop and more rock focused. The hazy guitars and washed out synths of “Skyline” feels like loneliness as a song as the ethereal backing vocals and bird song grow and expand across the piece. As if to build the drama and dread, the drums get progressive more angry and harsh like a build-up of white noise. “I Know Why You’re Coming” is a gorgeously French and gothic piece that blooms into a rolling rock finale. Its happy undertone brightens up the day with its clever use of early restraint and then letting go later on. The big ballad is “Gracias Hombre Lobo”. It gives absolutely loads of space to the drums, pianos and an after grizzled effect that makes the entire track feel dirty and scuffed. It might be the epic ballad but it packs a punch. “Something’s Wrong” is the other long track and plays out like an underground spy thriller. The deep synth bass notes pulsate in the verses like your playing James Bond in a nightclub. The closing track “Red Lights” is a fantastic closer at it encompasses everything that makes Indigo Birds great. It has a catchy hook, a rising level of panic and drama and has just a splash of quirky thrown in, this time with a creepy exit monologue about being received into Godly arms.
Alongside Clock Opera, Sylvette and Duologue – Indigo Birds have been one of my favourite indie rock discoveries of the last couple of years. Their debut album more than fulfils the promise of their early singles and shows a band who sounds comfortable playing existential crisis like a good riff! It is definitely a grower of an album, although there are songs that stand out immediately on first listen. Songs like “Noises”, “Burned”, “Cockfighter” and Red Lights” hook you in early. The more you listen, the more you discover and enjoy and that makes it the first top tier album of 2022.
Recommended track: Noises
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