Review Summary: Lætitia the goldfish, Lætitia the nomad
The concept of a home is clearly very important to Lætitia Tamko. After all, her stage name is only one letter off from a word defined as someone who lives without a home. However, taking that connection in a literal sense would not get the full picture,”For me, home is a physical or emotional space where you completely feel like yourself.,”
Tamko explains in an interview with Bandcamp Daily, “...It doesn’t even have to be a tangible place. It can be a state of mind, just feeling at ease. I think I’m constantly in search of that, of finding that ‘home’ feeling.” Infinite Worlds
sees Tamko’s in the middle of said pursuit for that home. Whether it’s in a literal or mental sense varies per track.
The first lines of the opener, “The Embers”, kicks off this central theme quite tactfully,”I feel so small / My feet can barely touch the floor / On the bus, where everybody is tall”
. They’re simple lines, but they convey the fish out of water feelings, an idiom that might’ve inspired the final verse of the track, clearly. However, Tamko’s delivery of these lines is just as critical as the lines themselves; she comes across as passionate and intimate in her vocal performances across the entire record, and occasionally resembles Hop Along’s Francis Quinlan when Tamko gets more vocally aggressive. It’s how songs like “Cold Apartment” manage to be so emotionally powerful yet lyrically bare quantity-wise. “Cold Apartment” might even be the most stirring song of them all, as Tamko describes a heartbreaking realization that your other half isn’t willing to put in the same work to save a crumbling relationship,”We are not the same / But I thought you'd wait, I thought you'd wait / You would wait / And we sit on my cold apartment floor / Where we thought we would stay in love”
While many of the songs in the latter half manage to thrive off their anti-verbosity, the songwriting differs. Expectations are set incredibly high with “The Embers” and “Fear & Force”, two of the most sharply written tracks on here that come through with memorable melodies and choruses. The latter even comes through with a few left hooks sonically with the hook taking up a hip hop flavor and actually succeeding with such a sudden, drastic instrumental switch-up. But the second half is dominated by tracks that come across as poetry, wonderfully written poetry to be fair, set to some competent though unadventurous indie rock instrumentals rather than fully fleshed out compositions. A ton of patience is needed to find something to really hold onto that isn’t a lyric.
Even if the fact that this is the first Vagabon album wasn’t given to the listener, it’d be easy to point that out based off the album’s content and characteristics. As previously mentioned, Tamko’s songwriting chops are there and can be seen a few times, but consistency is yet to be found. Though this lack of consistency could come into conflict with the other major issue of Infinite Worlds
. Even by debut records standards, it is a criminally short album at 28 minutes, and quite a bit of that time is dedicated to the mid-album ambient-ish piece “Mal a L'aise” that may smooth out in it’s 2nd half, but it’s still a decent minute-long interlude stretched out to five minutes. But even with all the blemishes that Infinite Worlds
has, Tamko still shows that she has the capacity to work out them out and come through with a stunner when the next opportunity comes. She has a compelling perspective and the ability to tell of this perspective in captivating ways. All that’s left is to translate that to thoroughly developed songs across a full record. She sounds like she’s found her home, all that’s needed are some renovations.