Laetitia Tamko opens her debut record with “The Embers,” painting herself as “a small fish” in a world of fiercer creatures. “You’re a shark that hates everything,” she repeats. “You’re a shark that eats every fish.” In the music video, Tamko sits on a bus, surrounded by nondescript white guys with blindfolds on, unaware of her presence as she sings. But then she finds the freedom in being left to herself, dancing, comfortable in her own space in the world. Later, the men carry her above them.
Watching it reminds me of the recent conversation between Dirty Projector’s Dave Longstreth and Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold, bemoaning the lack of new, good and original indie rock. The conversation, which took place on Instagram, earned some well-deserved eye rolls and the criticism that the two don’t realize the major players in the genre are increasingly non-male and non-white; they only had to look beyond those that mirrored themselves to find musicians like Tamko, who has created an amazing album that contains an emotion and fire that makes it seem beyond just her first major release. Her talent for introspection, as well as a worldly awareness, make it easy to get lost in her universe.
On Infinite Worlds, quiet, indie-folk moments give way to heavy rock and in the middle of it all, the dreamy, electronic jam “Mal à L’aise.” Her best lyrics rise out of sadness instead of being brought down by it, and use the feeling of being small or out of place as motivation to push back. The song where it all comes together in a perfect, heartbreaking way is “Cold Apartment,” which builds and pulls back until words seem to escape Tamko; her soaring vocals dissolve over crashing drums and power chords until we’re left with just the gentle guitar melody the song started with. The album feels new and fresh, even after a few listens. If you haven’t heard it yet, check it out below.