Album Review: Infinite Worlds - Vagabon
A milestone within the story of Cameroon born artist Lӕtita Tamko’s, who records under the name of Vagabon, was during her high school years when she relocated to New York, encountering the unadorned verity of confined apartments, public travel and DIY indie rock, all of which are made apparent within her candid and beautifully poetic lyricism. Although charming and ambitious, Vagabon’s first release Persian Garden EP in 2014 didn’t quite lift her to the status she so much deserves, yet Tamko’s latest endeavor, debut Infinite Worlds, will be sure to place her on the pedestal she’s been waiting for since that big move to New York.
Image Credit: Father/Daughter Records
Various songs that appear on Infinite Worlds have acknowledged life previously throughout Vagabon’s 2014 EP Persian Garden. Songs such as “Sharks” and “Vermont II” have been reshaped, reorganized and resuscitated into far more groomed and elusive tracks, posing as a clear indication to the growth and flourishment of Vagabon’s musical capabilities. The first of these re-workings, takes the form of opening track “The Embers” (originally entitled “Sharks”). The song’s grinding yet anthemic guitar riffs and empowering drums reminisce the sounds of Modest Mouse’s debut, yet Tamko’s voice is the prevailing tool which drives the tracks into the realms of endless possibilities. The tracks opening line –“I feel so small, my feet can barely touch the floor/ on the bus where everybody is tall” – sums up Vagabon’s self-space thesis seamlessly.
Vagabon’s greatest feat is her voice. Throughout the record it poses as a powerful contrivance, possessing the ability to render from soft to loud, provocative to relaxing, amounted with serenity and a grace not like many others. Combine this with her gift for poetic storytelling and you have a force unlike many other seen in the indie-rock scene in recent years. Tracks such as “Fear & Force” and “Mal a L’aise” really demonstrate this. –“I’ve been dying to go/ this is not my home” – sings Tamko on track “Fear & Force”; an ode to small spaces and a failed relationship. This melancholy acoustic jam, which ascends into a beautifully distorted cry, borrows backing vocals from fellow New York indie-rocker Greta Kline of Frankie Cosmos, who’s 2016 album Next Thing can be heavily traced throughout the record, which is a glorious thing.
"The Embers" video directed by Mooj Zadie
Cinematography by Kenny Suleimanagich
The incredibly fast pacing within the track “Minneapolis” has a rythmatic feel similar to that of a 70s Buzzcocks song, flamboyant and drum-centered juxtaposed with heart-wrenching lyricism, confronting the issue of her contentment to stay, -“It was never the same/ I can’t go back to the place I once was”-. This track progresses into one of the most fascinating songs on the album, “Mal a Laise”. Posing as a sort of ambient pop intermission, “Mal a Laise” is a sound collage, made up of processed voices, all of which spoken in French, diving into a mesmerizing paradox we never thought would be explored within Infinite Worlds.
Vagabon’s Infinite Worlds frequently returns to the same themes of belonging. Whether this being blurry definitions of home within “Cold Apartments” and “The Embers” or articulating the whimsical feeling of being a small fish in a gigantic fish pond, Tamko returns to the reoccurring point: the place where you wish to live is one you have to create – home is where the heart is. Infinite Worlds is the debut we’ve been waiting for, making her inimitable genre-bending sound feel victorious.