Indiana – No Romeo
Nottingham-bred mother of two Lauren Henson’s profile is growing. As dark electronica songstress Indiana, she’s known for her soulful take on an inherently mechanical genre. Since the release of her top-10 track Solo Dancing, opinions of Indiana – named after Harrison Ford’s adventuring archaeologist – have risen and mutated into expectation for her forthcoming album No Romeo.
A collection of up-tempo empowerment, the album alternates dramatically between interesting but oppressive techno derivatives, to more accessible, but ultimately shallower pop-centred radio bait. No Romeo is at its best when the two styles merge into an upbeat mishmash that’s dark and addictive.
The album opens with one of its strongest tracks. Never Born’s synthesised beats are exaggerated to the extreme, giving the song a chest thumping rhythm that builds, then mellows, in unexpected directions. It’s about as threatening as the album gets, along with the unapologetically moody Jack, so it’s a brave choice to step off from. It works though, and the song’s light and shade is a good introduction to the album’s ups and downs.
Despite Indiana’s love of synth-laden backing, her vocals are mostly left clean, providing a hint of convention to the futuristic style. It also adds a rawness that synchronises with the emotive quality found on most tracks on the album.
This year’s Solo Dancing is a declaration of the singer’s advocation of dancing by oneself, attempting to claim back the pursuit from unhinged festival-goers. It’s electronica, plain and simple, but, like the rest of the album, it’s taken from a more menacing angle than your usual synthesised fair. The result is a track made to be danced to, but with a little more depth than you’d expect.
Title track No Romeo exploits the album’s ever present r’n’b elements, while constantly switching vocal styles. The song’s feminist message is as shallow as the title would suggest, and lyrics lack the intelligence of the rest of the album, but the song brings forward a loving nostalgia for 90s pop.
Indiana’s first large label release is a fair start, but until she finds the right balance between the various elements that dip in an out of her songwriting, it’s unlikely to garner a strong reaction either way. Despite the slight tedium invoked by the album as a whole, there are enough highlights here to break the monotony of the album’s least interesting tracks, but they do little to dull the lasting impression of the album’s mediocrity.
Joe Manners Lewis
No Romeo is released on 1st September 2014, for further information or to pre-order the album visit here.
Watch the video for Heart on Fire here: