Do you remember tinkering with a Casio keyboard? Holding down certain keys and moving down the row to each subsequent note? You might have been aspiring to a certain etherealness, something that you felt intuitively to be right in your mind, something that might have moved a Russian countess to tears. This is Indoor Voices’ hypnotic Animal. It is ethereal and right — in a refined way, though.
The less you know about Toronto-based Indoor Voices and its vocalist Jonathan Relph, the better. Animal consists of ten tracks, five of which are ambient, and the other five are dream pop songs mastered by Simon Scott of Slowdive,
Mystery is very becoming of Indoor Voices; the music speaks for itself, with many feelings layering it. Its waves are dictated by raw emotion and the electric currents floating about our brains.
Song titles seem to almost chronicle a haunted tale, from “He Won’t Fight” to “No One.” Right when you think you’re getting better, you fall and keep falling. There’s something that snares you in, and keeps you inside via its vulnerability, its mirror reflection. It’s the spiritual, wordless narrative that is passed down from track to track, from person to person.
It’s difficult to decipher what Relph is saying on the tracks that contain lyrics, for example the devastatingly beautiful “Always All Ways,” but this doesn’t matter much. You can tell, from the tenor of his voice, from the time the beat keeps, from the urgency of the bass. You can tell from the feel of the song, and you can make it your own regardless of what Relph desires. And that’s the beauty of this record: it’s heartbreakingly beautiful, terrifying, melodramatic, and contains a visceral exigency that abides the world over.
A lot of the atmospheric tracks, like “They Hang Around,” serve an almost therapeutic or medicinal purpose in the sense that they steady your breathing, they will calm you down. This is a beautifully strange album that is a success on a reflexive level — its hymnal beat is like religious revelation or psychic awakening. (Independent)