Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Isaac Indiana's splits the difference between indie-pop and indie rock

July 9, 2012

Spring’s major releases didn’t impress me much, but today blew my socks off: all-time fave The Mountain Goats, up-and-coming fave The Very Best and long-time love Frightened Rabbit all came across my radar with new album announcements. I’m especially excited for the last one, because Isaac Indiana‘s self-titled EP had me thinking, “Man, I’d like to see these guys play with Frightened Rabbit someday.”

The English indie-rock/indie-pop band calls up Hutchison and Co’s swooning bombast on its more emotive tracks, while presenting a more rollicking pop front when they get happy. Opener “Everything’s Fine” turns the verse’s wiry guitar riff into a huge pop chorus complete with synths, group harmonies and thrashing cymbals. “Speak Up” is an equally fun tune, powered by a jaunty piano line and augmented with perky horns.

Some may find the baritone vocals don’t jive with their idea of a playful indie-pop band, but I like it. Those who are used to low vocals carrying import will find themselves more in tune with “Make Me Laugh,” where the band keeps the pace but turns it in a more serious direction. The piano again plays a big role, providing counterpoint to the vocals. But the highlight is closer “You and I,” where the two approaches come together. There’s an underlying energy to the tune, but the horns and keys keep the tension instead of announcing their arrivals with riffs. The tune has the mood and the melody down, showing the best that Isaac Indiana has to offer.

Isaac Indiana’s self-titled debut shows a band exploring their sound. There’s a lot of room for them to grow inside what they’ve already established, as well as the boundary-pushing that all bands can and should do. I’m looking forward to see what they come up with next.

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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