Most Millennials are likely to have had at least some exposure to Emo music during their youth. It was throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s when sad, hormonal teenagers around the world were being drawn to this romantic offshoot of hardcore punk that literally takes its name from the word “emotional.” For a heartsick adolescent, there’s something almost cathartic about hearing another heartsick adolescent singing about their woes over twinkly, electric guitars.
Even though Emo was popularized around 20 years ago with bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, American Football and Mineral, the vitality of the musical style is evidenced by how many bands are still playing variations of Emo today.
From Indian Lakes is one such band. It was formed in 2009 by singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Joey Vannucchi. Vannucchi and his band have been creating a passionate blend of Emo and Indie Rock since their 2009 debut album called, “The Man With Wooden Legs.” From Indian Lakes have released three full albums since then, all of which were recorded at Vannucchi’s home studio in none other than the rural Indian Lakes, CA. The band’s first few releases have all served as an expansion upon the blueprint of Emo and Indie Rock.
From Indian Lakes’ most recent album, “Everything Feels Better Now,” released Oct. 14, is the band’s first real departure from their signature sound. Their traditional Emo roots can still be easily recognized in Vannucchi’s melancholy guitar playing and wistful singing. Along with these classic characteristics, From Indian Lakes does a wonderful job of incorporating many new styles and techniques into this album. The most noticeable of these new styles being the dreamy, reverberated cloud that envelops the entire recording. It’s this forward-thinking attitude that makes “Everything Feels Better Now” such an engaging listen.
The album begins with the chime of a dizzying and modulated organ that jumps from one ear to the next in a very interesting stereophonic effect. This unique introduction serves as a brief taste of what is to come, as it transitions into the first song titled, “Happy Machines.” Vannucchi’s sweet, resonating vocals cut into the warbling organ to kick off the song as he sings, “You were hoping I could change/ but I stayed the same and everything feels better now.”
These lyrics don’t make much sense within the context of the album because, when listening to the music, it becomes clear that Vannucchi has actually changed quite a bit, at least in terms of songwriting.
“Happy Machines” has a very pretty and ethereal sound that slowly builds delayed guitar strumming, syncopated drums, angular bass and atmospheric synthesizers over the original strange organ motif. All of these pieces gradually melt together into a gorgeous opening song.
The next song, “The Monster,” is played in a 7/4 time signature, which makes the beat sound very strange and mathematical. Despite the odd rhythmic quality of this song, Vannucchi is able to work a surprisingly catchy guitar hook in on top of it. By the time the harmonized vocals come into the mix, the off-kilter rhythm seems almost natural. This song has a fantastic chorus that will likely have any listeners singing along before it’s over. According to From Indian Lakes’ Soundcloud account, “The Monster,” is the most popular song on this album by a long shot with over 20,000 plays. The popularity of this track is definitely warranted.
There are several other highlights here, such as the song, “Hello,” with its swirling, dream-like instrumental that sounds like it could be gently emanating from a cavern somewhere in the backcountry of Indian Lakes. Another high point is the mysterious droning synthesizers that make up the entirety of the minimalistic closer, “Rid Of It.” The beautiful spaciousness of this track sets a tone of contemplation and reflection as the record ends.
The biggest problem with “Everything Feels Better Now” is that it’s a bit front-loaded. The first few songs are great, but unfortunately, their brilliance tends to outshine most of everything that follows. The second half of the album isn’t bad by any means, but there aren’t very many standout tracks, as most of them tend to blend together.
Overall, “Everything Feels Better Now” is a very enjoyable listen. It seems Vannucchi is experimenting with some new ideas while maintaining the mournful Emo sound that he’s been cultivating since 2009. This album is sure to resonate with distressed teenagers and well-adjusted adults alike. It will be exciting to see where From Indian Lakes goes from here.