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Vagabon - Vagabon (Album Review)

Monday, 28 October 2019 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Tonje Thilesen

Vagabon’s second album is quite wonderful—a soft, sprawling lo-fi treatise on self discovery that melds elegant arrangements with a highly distinctive voice.​

We open with Full Moon In Gemini, which features tidy synth drums and strings that swell gently beneath beautifully mannered vocals: “Our bodies lie unresponsive, but kind / It was a beautiful night / When we watched the dark moon.”

Vagabon (born Laetitia Tamko) is a tremendous singer and while one does not wish to overplay her African origins (she was born in Cameroon), there is a non-Western vocal style here that elevates the album. 

This style is more pronounced on the brilliant Flood, where sung phrases emerge from the back of the throat, giving the lyrics a slightly tubular quality. The track itself is a low rising epic, somewhere between the trip hop of Morcheeba and the neo-soul of Toro Y Moi. It lands lands incredibly convincingly.

Wits About You is also gorgeous—a wistful track that varies nimbly in texture and tone while always feeling cogent. The production, also handled by Tamko, is more noteworthy on this song; darting between clean electro production and boxy shoddiness.

That said, the album does misfire at times. The single Water Me Down is fairly underwhelming, while In a Bind is a bit…nice. Tamko has sacrificed the indie-rock sound of her first album ‘Infinite Worlds’ in favour of a record that pays lip service to the genre de jour, electronica. The result is occasionally a little gentile, even if the standard is consistently high.

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