Album Review: From Indian Lakes – ‘Head Void’

Posted: by The Editor

It’s been five years since the last From Indian Lakes album, but Joe Vannucchi has kept himself busy, releasing a solo album every year in that time (including an ambient record under the name Dides). The time he’s taken away from his main project seems to have paid off; he sounds recharged on Head Void, revitalized, ready for anything. A number of factors could play in here; for one thing, Head Void is the shortest full-length he’s put out under From Indian Lakes’ name, two minutes shorter than 2014’s Absent Sounds and nearly 30 minutes shorter than 2019’s Dimly Lit. It’s also his most upbeat and energetic album in at least a decade; more impressively, though, that intensity doesn’t come at the expense of the spaciousness and atmosphere he cultivated on the last two From Indian Lakes LPs. Instead, he’s found a way to pull the best aspects of all the project’s previous work together into one cohesive album.

Vannucchi’s inspiration playlists on Spotify are full of shoegaze artists; while Head Void is decidedly not a shoegaze album, he does seem to have learned a few tricks from those bands. His vocals, while never the focal point of a From Indian Lakes LP, are buried further in the mix than ever before, and his guitar tones are washier, and particularly shimmery on tracks like “Shrine.” If we think of shoegaze as a textural approach more than a stylistic one, then, sure, Vannucchi’s gone shoegaze. Still, lead single “The Flow” is propulsive in a way his music hasn’t been in a long time.

There’s a raspy edge to Vannucchi’s voice that lends an urgency to the track, especially combined with the whirring riffs; sandwiched between “Holy” and “The Lines,” it forms part of a trio that kick Head Void into another gear following the gauzy opener “Water.” Those heights are matched in the back half, with the pairing of the skittery, experimental cut “I Lay Different” and the explosive “Spilling Over,” which uses dream pop as a launchpad for a towering, hypnotic rock’n’roll bridge. It’s songs like “Spilling Over” that best exemplify the strengths of Head Void, the way From Indian Lakes uses the sonic palette of the previous two LPs to livelier ends.

“Spilling Over” is a microcosm of what Head Void more broadly does so well in synthesizing the poles of From Indian Lakes’ sound. There are, of course, the more straightforward ballads that could’ve fit on the last couple albums–the strummy, breathy “Hold Me Down” and the sparkling “Keep Me”–but the production keeps them feeling of a piece with the rest of the album, washed out and almost arm’s-length. “Keep Me,” particularly as the album closer, feels fitting. It feels like a reimagining of a cut off Everything Feels Better Now that seems to suggest how much Vannucchi has changed in the time since. In that song, he sings of “getting older” until “we begin to fade,” but fifteen years since From Indian Lakes began they only seem to be getting better.

Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal

Head Void is out now.

Zac Djamoos | @gr8whitebison

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