Album Review: Vagabon – Infinite Worlds

By Tanner Bidish, Staff Writer
[Father/Daughter; 2017]
Rating: 7.5/10

Key Tracks: “The Embers”, “Cleaning House”, “Alive and A Well”

Space is hard to come by naturally. For any non-majority person, space even is harder to come by. You feel small, it becomes hard to speak and you crave to feel sturdy. It’s a difficult feeling, but Laetitia Tamko puts it to music on Infinite Worlds, under her pseudonym Vagabon. Tamko is a multi-instrumentalist, and her skill is heard throughout her latest record as she lends herself to each her song’s instrumental components: guitar, synth, drums, bass, vocals. She does it all, as well as co-producing her record alongside Christopher Daly. Her work is tight, emotional, and gripping; Infinite Worlds is a flagship for Vagabon.

That struggle for space – it’s the central conflict of the album opener “The Embers”. Tamko sings about feeling small on public transit. Her voice is powerful as she declares herself as a small fish while “you’re a shark that hates everything, you’re a shark that eats every fish!” The message is potent as it mirrors Tamko’s position in the music industry. A black woman creating in the white-dominated field of indie-rock has to try even harder to find spaces. The album explores the feeling of unease more broadly in “Mal à L’iase”. The track title is in French, Tamko’s first language, and translates to English as “discomfort”. It’s a five-minute ambient/instrumental mix featuring samples from Steve Sobs and some lo-fi vocal takes in English and French. The ethereal track embodies a sense of confusion that elapses into a sense a comfort.

Throughout the album is a theme of affirming one’s voice. “No longer yearn to be gentle and pure and sweet. Not intimidating, yet sure”, Tamko sings over the acoustic intro of “Cleaning Room”. You can hear her strain. She’s tired of being filtered. The power of her own voice is what makes this track and Infinite Worlds so robust. The closing track, “Alive and A Well”, is an acoustic number. It’s calm, prideful without arrogance, and strong.

Infinite Worlds is truly reassuring. It relies upon the anxieties of feeling tiny and makes a commitment to tackling them. You may not know Vagabon before this record, but after one listen you’ll have no doubts.

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