I love nostalgia. I live for nostalgia. The comforting feeling it provides, the great memories it brings up – nostalgia is a powerful feeling. Listening to Indoor Creature’s latest release, Windows, gives me these feelings of intense nostalgia that I love, feelings that are such a consuming experience, that it’s hard to find many faults. The breezy electronic instruments and ethereal smoothness remind me of beaches, hot summer days and youthful romance.There are many albums that provide the perfect musical setting for driving down the coast of California in a classic American convertible, or stargazing on humid August nights — and Windows fits right into this list of albums.
The lyrics beg me to feel otherwise – songs like “So Long To The Buckeye State” and “Really Can’t Say” expose a more lyrically vulnerable side to the band – but are composed in a way that the candid mood of the lyrics is masked by the upbeat sounds of the synths and electronics.
Caleb Fleischer’s vocals can be fleeting and aloof at times, but not overbearingly so – I’m never begging for someone to cut the mic effects. Being heavy-handed with vocal alterations is often distracting, but in Windows, it only enhances the mood-setting that Indoor Creature do so smoothly.
A change in sound does not mean a change in soul
Windows is a creative departure from Indoor Creature’s previous albums, which feature more indie-pop sounds than the prominent experimental electronica and noir jazz influences in Windows – but there are arches of sound that extend over the course of their discography. Present Thinking’s “Oceans” has jazz flares thrown in that mimic those in Windows “Another None.”
One of the most interesting songs on the album, and perhaps the most unexpected, is “Sea Green.” The feature from rapper Sweeb caught me off guard; this was not at all what I was used to hearing from an indie pop band. I mean, when was the last time an indie band featured hip hop artists on their tracks? It’s unusual, but a very smart move on the part of Indoor Creature.
Hip hop is for sure in somewhat of a golden age right now, and the fusion of hip hop with indie pop on “Sea Green” is a superbly unique and forward-thinking usage of genre-bending. Sweeb’s verse, by the way, is awesome. It also doesn’t seem out-of-place or forced whatsoever, which is a feat in itself; not many songs are capable of passing off such musically different genres well. “Sea Green” definitely sounds radio-friendly, which may or may not have been the goal, but I say it only as a compliment. “Sea Green” is definitely a standout track on the album in terms of vocals, sound, and originality.
A work in progress
Travis Kitchen, bassist and drummer for Indoor Creature, said they began recording Windows in December 2015, so it has been maturing for a year and a half. However, they ended up scrapping some of the material they had created for its planned 2016 release. The change in direction was, interestingly, sparked by the album art. “We had our album cover for Windows designed early on by our friend Joe Walsh, which really impressed us. We felt like we had to make a product that matched the quality of its packaging.”
Kitchen also emphasized that both he and Fleischer worked on their instrument skills and “worked with other musicians to gain some additional knowledge on production and performance.” With more advanced skills and knowledge under their belts, they crafted Windows into the album it is now.
(IDENTITY) CRISIS AVERTED
It’s actually quite amazing that Indoor Creature has been able to experiment with multiple genres throughout their discography, while still maintaining a distinct sound. Kitchen said “we were really trying to think out of the box for this project,” and that effort is quite apparent in Windows. Not many bands are able to do this – excess experimentation can sometimes lead bands into an identity crisis. Three years and three albums later, Indoor Creature isn’t wandering away from who they want to be as a band with Windows – they’re falling right into their place.
Standout tracks: “Another None,” “I Live On The Corner,” “Sea Green,” “Over My Head.”