Land of Talk – ‘Indistinct Conversations’ album review

Land of Talk Indistinct Conversations album review Saddle Creek 2020

Land of Talk have been building a loyal cult following for a few years and their fourth album ‘Indistinct Conversations’ finds them breaking new, emotional ground while retaining their raw and emotional power. The songs were inspired by vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist Elizabeth Powell confronting the oppressive nature of the world while embracing their non-binary identity: ‘When I was younger, I didn’t even understand what a gender binary was. I just felt sort of confused my whole life. So now my mind is blown.’

The atmospheric alt-folk of ‘Diaphanous’ opens the album in style. Lauren says ‘We were spending our money, we were having fun’ before backing down on themselves and admitting ‘I was caught up in the wrong stuff’ amidst loud waves of post-punk guitar. This is followed by ‘Look to You’ – a song spread over two tracks. The intro finds sweet quieter chords battling with background chatter while the full song opens with chimes and a brooding bass line as Elizabeth admits ‘I can’t do this without you’ before the urging the subject to ‘Turn around, turn around, turn around. This was your last chance’.

‘Weight of That Weekend’ starts with a ‘Fuck you, Debbie’ before jangly, folk-tinged hooks reminiscent of Julien Baker take over: ‘Holy water, house of pain. We’ve come through slaughter to swim again’. ‘Love in 2 Stages’ has a deliberately downplayed introduction that gives you the chance to listen to Elizabeth’s words (‘I wanna feel. Understand, Why don’t you dig deep?’) while cracks of light start to shine through around the 80-second mark. ‘Compelled’ has Elizabeth getting to grips with something that consistently defeats them and the concept of mortality with a sound that fits somewhere between Willy Mason and Soccer Mommy: ‘The night that they die, it’s tough understanding the end’.

‘Footnotes’ opens with woozy college rock guitar hooks that sum up the melancholy nature of the message (‘Come and tell me your psychotic thoughts’; ‘Night after night, I’ll be there’) while the chamber pop of ‘A/B Futures’ will slot nicely alongside Broken Social Scene in your collection. ‘Festivals’ starts as a love letter to the events we’re all missing so much this year (‘Sundown, you’re so magnificent’) before becoming something more personal: ‘If your mouth is a festival, there’s a song in the way you speak’. The penultimate ‘Now You Want to Live in the Light’ has a sparser, country-tinged tone with lyrics about how good it feels to break free from predetermined boxes. The title track rounds off the album with snippets of all kinds of conversations set against unsettling yet ambient piano.

Although it’s called ‘Indistinct Conversations’, Land of Talk’s latest record is one worth shouting about.

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