A twenty seven year old singer from Nottingham chose to take on the name of a rural, midwestern American State and created a musical act known as “Indiana”. Her vocal style is rich, sensuous and emotional, her music a dark, trip hop inspired pop music.
The long gestating start of Indiana’s pop career can trace it roots back to 2012 when she released “Blind as I Am” and she finally saw success with the dark horse indie classic “Solo Dancing”. Her album that houses both of these tracks is the moody, vibrant “No Romeo”.
A long, surprisingly complex album, “No Romeo” is a dark sort of pop music. Synth and drum beats are blended with a degree of expertise, the whole album has a rich, shimmering sound. Vocally Indiana has a strong, emotionally resonant voice. Comparisons to Lorde seem obvious but there are touches of Kate Bush and Karin Andersen from the Knife.
Never Born is the leadout single of the album. A slow, menacing track that has a delicate, oriental beat that builds up to a ferocious, growling finale. The tempo picks up fast for the outstanding Solo Dancing; a paen to the nightlife that should strike a chord with anyone who loves the dance floor. A fantastic track and probably the initial stand out from the album. This track is the most dance inspired and hits high gear after a superb drop.
Things shift downgear again with the emotional Play Dead. A song about heartbreak and rejection, it’s poignant without being truly depressing. The modern day torch song “Heart on Fire” is probably one of the poppiest. It still features the same emotional vocals but the song itself is a decent pop song, nothing more.
The powerful, keening Blind As I Am was Indiana’s first real single and is a big, menacing call for love and understanding. The vocals take a slightly different tone, with a touch of Florence in them during this track.
The glittering tone of Jack is next. This song has some of the darkest lyrics in the entire album, references to lost love, broken hearts and bloody death. The chorus shifts the track over the line from good to excellent. “He’ll stay forever that way…all the blood on you Jack, it’s not worth bringing me for”. Incredible, dark, clever and a a classic in the making.
The gentle, yearning sound of New Heart is next which couldn’t be more different in tone to Jack. This beautiful, peaceful, charming track has an eighties feel to it and does conjure up images of classic 80’s romcom movies. Pleading, loving lyrics weave through the crunchy synth sounds creating a really special track.
There is a shift back to low, slow gear for the sensual but fairly flat Bound. A decent track but it’s fairly forgettable. The tempo picks up for the title track; No Romeo. Sitting alongside Solo Dancing this is one of the most up tempo, though still somewhat downbeat, tracks on the album.
Another healthy slice of 80’s synth permeates the track. The delicate Calibrated Love is another decent track that floats along with a fairly soft tone, picking up in tone every now and again with another retrodisco moment. The breathy, dreamlike opening to Shadow Flash is next. Indiana’s vocals soar during this track as she whispers the lyrics. The chorus is a glorious, shimmering moment of keening lyrics.
Only the Lonely is a surprisingly upbeat poppy song that arrives on the back of a lot of much darker material. It’s a fairly nice, simple song and passes by without a huge amount of fanfare. The upbeat climax is a nice moment.
The slower, seductive Mess Around has the same dark, tense tone that permeates the rest of the album. There’s a sharpness to the sound and the vocals have a sensual but menacing sound to them. The curiously titled Swim Good has a touch of the operatic in it with its long slow chords and the delicate, sharp edged vocals. The lyrics are at their most desperate and savage during this track. Their is a tone of sadness and bleakness that is at its most pronounced during this track.
Go Fast opens with a strange, robotic voice calling ‘Take Me In Your Car and Go Fast’. The track has a dark, European inspired synth edge to it and this track has a decent pace to it. It’s a strange gothic mixture and really adds to the mix of the album.
The vocals of the emotional Erase soar and call and it’s one of the most sad tracks on the album, with imagery that conjures up the movie ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’. Erase is all about the end of a relationship, the process of erasing someone’s memory and how hard this is to do and yet how necessary it can be. There is a glowing, menacing tone to the track that is largely based around the powerhouse vocals.
Erase stands in stark contrast with the hopeful, gentle tone of Ink which speaks of the opposite of Erase; the permanence of memory and affection, connection. It’s a really gentle, upbeat track despite some fairly bittersweet lyrics.
The same tone takes a darker turn into the deeply charged, tense Smoking Gun. The lyrics get dark during this album with references to self destruction and desperation. The chorus is a great, dark tidal wave of emotion and bleak, uncomfortable themes. At one point she breathes out menacingly ‘I’m in possession of a smoking gun and I want to hurt you just for fun’.
The outro track is the slow, keening Animal. Another sad song with high calling vocals, this is one of the moodiest tracks on the album and is a genuine downer. It’s a fine song but does feel a little bit like a very downbeat way to end an excellent album.
The length of the album ends up being a mixed blessing. You get a real feel of Indiana’s depth of her song writing and the quality of her production work. However at times the album feels overly long and there is some repetition of themes. The strong tracks stand out very much but the whole album does have a consistent theme and feel.
Indiana’s album is a big, bold, brave and occasionally flawed debut. One worries slightly that she’s left it all out on the field a bit with so much work and so much creativity going into a debut album. There is a touch of pop, gothic themes, gloomy, emotionally charged lyrics, trip hop and dubstep touches to it. ‘No Romeo’ has something that’s sure to catch the eye and in the opinion of this reviewer, a fairly major talent is announcing her arrival.