At some point, between “Come In This Light” and “Fog,” the bookend tracks of From Indian Lakes’s sophomore full-length (and first release on new label Triple Crown), you will likely realize a few things: first and foremost, the album is a very consistent and cohesive effort, building upon the band’s potential they clearly showcased on their debut Able Bodies; in addition, you will hear the soft, welcoming vocals of Joey Vannucchi, the band’s frontman, whose wistful delivery is among the most technically sound in the scene today; the band around Vannucchi do not slack either, giving unique, expansive backdrops throughout; however, the biggest realization you will come to by the end of Absent Sounds is that there simply aren’t any other bands quite like From Indian Lakes making music right now.
With a sound as unique as theirs, there wasn’t much that From Indian Lakes needed to tweak in their formula to keep things fresh, but that’s not to say their sound hasn’t at least slightly changed. Able Bodies was a release that often went back and forth between fast- and slow-paced tracks, with Vannucchi shifting between his medlodic croons and a more emotional, shout-y enunciation (seen most readily on tracks like “Breaking My Bones” and “Stay Outside”). Be it a departure from their younger, more boisterous side or a commitment to creating an album that flows better than its predecessor, those shouts have been essentially removed from the picture. In their place is a heightened focus on harmonies, which help to accent Vannucchi’s highly-introspective lyrics, evidenced by the eerie chants of “Am I alive?” in the track that carries the same name, and throughout the course of the minimalist “Awful Things.” Vannucchi does show some grit from time to time as well, most notably on the chorus of lead single “Ghost,” but even when he picks up his vocal intensity, it doesn’t give off the same grit and energy fans may be used to. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing that Absent Sounds was recorded this way, but it is slightly disappointing to see Vannucchi almost completely do away with something he did very well previously.
Vannucchi’s lyrics take away any reservations about his vocal delivery, however, thanks to a highly introspective set of songs that analyze multiple facets of life. “Come In This Light” shows Vannucchi confronting someone who’s perhaps enjoyed too many of life’s spoils, with a chorus declaring “You don’t know what it’s like to lose.” On “Breathe, Desperately” he shows himself as a man who feels a great deal of regret for past transgressions, which has boiled over into uncertainty about his future. This uncertainty is a theme touched upon again in “Search For More,” as Vannucchi yearns to find what he feels his life is missing. Self-doubt is a driving force of “Sleeping Limbs,” ending with a sweeping outro that finds the speaker unsure of his ability to get back up after failure. “Ghost” provides even further self-deprication, as Vannucchi describes himself as “a ghost of what I once was,” a powerful message that will resonate with many listeners. Self-doubt and uncertainty are certainly the most prevalent lyrical themes, with the mourning of a lost love and a general melancholy for past mistakes serving as the two causes for these themes throughout the album.
While he has been the main songwriter and lyricist for the band since its inception in 2011, Vannucchi must share the credit with the rest of the band built around him, as they come together to make the album complete. Fellow guitarist Justin Stanphill, keyboard op Enrique Gutierrez, bassist Chris Kellogg, and drummer Tohn Ifergan round out this talented lineup, and it is through these musicians the band finds its unique, signature sound. With all due respect to Vannucchi, his lyrical themes have certainly been touched upon before in the emo genre (admittedly not with his vocal talents), so the band needed to do more to truly stand out. The answer to that issue is the band’s indie instrumentation, which can go from breezy beach-pop to barren and somber in a heartbeat. Ifergan’s drumming paces “Label this Love,” as he punishes the kit throughout. Gutierrez sets up the album in a very subtle, intriguing way on “Come In This Light,” before Ifergan joins the track and the two shine alongside one another. “Breathe, Desperately” opens with a toe-tap-inducing acoustic guitar introduction that is soon accompanied by an electric guitar, and Vannucchi and Stanphill complement one another incredibly well. Each track feels rich and complete, an indication of a job well done by producer
Through the combination of Vannucchi’s emo lyrics and the band’s indie-tinged musicianship, From Indian Lakes are a rare band that can cross over into multiple genres. They are able to tour with a myriad of bands thanks to this, and it only sets them up for success in the future. Of course, this would mean nothing if the band’s music wasn’t as good as it is on Absent Sounds. It’s certainly a departure from Able Bodies in a few ways, but the band have stayed true to what they were so successful on their first effort. If Able Bodies put From Indian Lakes on the radar for bands that showed potential to become great, Absent Sounds will go down as an album where they began to realize that potential.