Label: Fire Talk
The first time I encountered Mandy, Indiana was at a secret set at End Of The Road Festival. It was around 2am and all of my friends had collapsed in bed, leaving me alone in the darkness of the Tipi Tent. I had no idea what I was in for and, as the band crushed me with their industrial noise, danceable beats and French-spoken vocals, I knew they were something special.
Now, Mandy, Indiana have finally dropped their debut album, ‘i’ve seen a way’. If you’ve listened to the ‘…’ EP, you know what to expect. If you haven’t, consider going in blind.
The album opens with ‘Love Theme (4K VHS)’, a cinematic track and, funnily enough, completely different to anything they’ve released before. The track could be pulled straight from an 80s sci-fi movie, with arpeggiating synths, sidechained kicks and an ominous tone. Instead of launching us straight into the oppressiveness of the album, Mandy, Indiana instead go for a softer approach, creating an ominous atmosphere and easing us in.
This soon fades away. ‘Drag [Crashed]’ is propelled by driving kicks and immediately we are attacked with horror-movie-esque strings. The track functions a little like a demented LCD Soundsystem cut, with its playful percussion. Noise drones in and out, seemingly alive, but, no matter how abrasive it becomes, Valentine Caulfield’s voice is never smothered.
Caulfield’s vocals are one of Mandy, Indiana’s most noticeable features, partly because when listening to Mancunian industrial bass, you don’t expect to hear French lyrics. Often repetitive, Caulfield’s vocals are screamed, whispered, friendly, terrifying, or a mixture of the four. On ‘Pinking Shears’, one of the more rhythmic moments, they are endlessly catchy, skipping along even when bassy drones threaten to swallow her whole.
The highlight of the album is ‘Peach Fuzz’; a brutal, relentless and dancey banger. A driving techno beat drives the track, as club-ready as it is wildly sinister. The synths are unbelievablty squelchy, the layers of noise overwhelming and, with Caulfield’s yell of “c’est ne pas une révolte, c’est une révolution”, the track becomes a bold scream of revolution.
This is a completely new sound and, joining the likes of SCALPING, PVA and Model/Actriz, Mandy, Indiana are piloting a new wave of harsh, noisy, but surprisingly fun dance music.
This outrageous fun is both the album’s greatest strength and weakness; it is these outrageous moments that shine much brighter than the more moody moments. In contrast to the outrageous ‘Peach Fuzz’ or ‘Injury Detail’, ‘Iron Maiden’ and ‘The Driving Rain (18)’ feel slightly flat, missing the essential character of the band and, while moody, they leave you waiting for the next explosion.
As strange as it may sound for an album so sinister, ‘i’ve seen a way’ works at its absolute best when the band are having the most fun, whether this is through heavy beats, crushing noise or experimental vocals. Luckily, there are more than enough of these moments and, if Mandy, Indiana keep experimenting as they have been, this could be the beginning of a very, very exciting new sound.
Listen to ‘i’ve seen a way’ here: