Mandy, Indiana’s … EP offers up raw talent and aesthetic acumen
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  • Post published:23/11/2021
  • Post last modified:23/11/2021

“Bottle Episode” opens with a trashy, lo-fi drum-and-bass part. Valentine Caulfield’s voice, splashed with static, shoves its way into the mix. While Caulfield’s French lyrics will prove elusive for English-only speakers, her urgent tone aptly contributes to a sense of uncertainty only slightly augmented by a rough translation: a dadaistic and Guernica-esque portrayal of men walking through a field “in the early morning.” Toward the end of the track, “the bullets fly” and “the men finally die.”

“Nike of Samothrace” doubles down on a no-wave-and-spoken-word signature, blasts of effects-generated clamor bringing to mind Sunn O))) or Swans. Comparisons to Dry Cleaning are also possible; in terms of vocal style, however, Caulfield’s voice is more adrenalized than Florence Shaw’s, her lyricism less epigrammatic and more obliquely diaristic. Also, Dry Cleaning’s sonic MO is compositional, whereas Mandy, Indiana are ambiently inclined and more ostensibly connected to a garage zeitgeist. On “Alien 3,” Caulfield’s breathy voice is notably contrasted with relatively staccato instrumentation. Lyrically the piece describes a relational break-up, Caulfield concluding, “I won’t live on my knees anymore” (translated from the French).

EP’s 4th and 5th tracks are remixes of “Alien 3” and “Nike of Samothrace.” While “Alien 3” is speedball-y more than speedy, Daniel Avery’s remix is MDMA-/rave-ready, Caulfield’s vocal turned into a glitchy sound effect. The “Nike” remix by Club Eat, on the other hand, takes the song in an art-rock direction. Instrumentation is partially stripped, creating a comparatively spacious feel. The percussion is trebly, the overall vibe more buoyant. Ultimately, both remixes are more memorable than the originals. With that in mind, the band might’ve considered replacing the originals with tracks that could’ve further fleshed out the project.

That said, Mandy, Indiana have forged a surprisingly distinct sound in the well-populated post-punk/noise-rock milieu. While … EP arguably lacks a definitive cohesion, the project is siren, even inchoately irresistible, a clear indicator of this band’s raw talent and aesthetic acumen. Mandy, Indiana have enormous potential.

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