Infinite Worlds is quite the fitting name for Laetitia Tamko’s debut album as Vagabon. It’s filled with many little wonders for the listener to discover, as Tamko uses her songwriting talents to carve out her own landscape in the world of indie rock. These worlds are certainly worth exploring, as Tamko lays bare her ruminations and accentuates them with deep song structures and spell-binding performances. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a debut as emotionally resonant and stunning as this. As such, she’s created one of the most accomplished debuts in recent memory, staking her claim as one of indie rock’s promising new voices.
On album highlight “Fear & Force,” Tamko sings that she’s “been hiding in the smallest spaces/I’m dying to go, this is not my home” over a tasteful guitar melody. This small space then slowly unfurls into a beautiful, spacious portrait of longing and remorse. This is but one of the many dazzling moments on Infinite Worlds, where intimate conflicts are wonderfully transformed into poetic scenes via rich instrumentation and open-hearted performances. While these arrangements add much detail, Tamko gracefully leaves just enough space for these songs to grow, rather than encumbering them with needless accessories. She shows that she’s a master of combining the modest with the grandiose, making songs that feel both familiar and magical all at once.
As for the instrumentation itself, Infinite Worlds doesn’t stray too far from the indie rock standard There are the familiar sounds of fuzzy guitar riffs, sweetly plucked acoustic guitars, and a deft touch of effervescent synths to round things out. However, a big foundation for the album’s success is Tamko’s talent for stretching the indie playbook to suit her own unique style. These songs manage to feel somber, wistful, and proud all at once. Take “100 Years” for example. On its surface, the rush of slightly distorted guitars and pounding drums might seem a bit generic. A few listens after, though, and the tune’s impeccable sense of spacing and timing create an experience that’s much more than the sum of its parts. The emotions these songs conjure are multi-layered, presenting an image that’s colorful, deep, and, most importantly, realistic. As such, they resonate on their own special level, like a close secret between the artist and audience. Considering how well-written these tunes are, it’s surprising that this is just a debut album. There are artists who are multiple albums deep into their careers that struggle to create a record as elegant and thoughtful as this.
This thoughtful expression carries on to the lyrics. A common theme on Infinite Worlds is yearning. Namely, it’s a yearning to fit in, to find a place of comfort and support. On “Minneapolis,” Tamko grapples with restlessness in the titular city. She proclaims that she “can’t go back to the place where I once was/Old home, where I was born.” Elsewhere, on “Cold Apartment,” she struggles with the memories of a failed relationship on her “cold apartment floor/Where we thought we would stay in love.” She never goes into full-on confessional mode, spilling out every small detail into her lyrics. Rather, she gives these poignant little tales room to breathe, eschewing excessive storytelling for personal anecdotes. Thus, these songs leave a lasting emotional impact, much like how our faded memories of the past poke and prod at us long after we’ve moved on.
As it stands, Infinite Worlds is a fantastic record. It finds Tamko successfully turning the personal into the universal. She may tackle issues of uncertainty and uneasiness, but the high quality of this album proves her artistic vision is unwavering. Infinite Worlds is an ambitious, idiosyncratic record about insecurity and belonging that shows Vagabon is here to stay.
Infinite Worlds is available now on Father/Daughter Records.