The band project of multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Laetitia Tamko, Vagabon released a debut album ‘Infinite Worlds’ adds a wealth of gravitas that creatively everything is on the rise, she hones her singular voice and vision with an unprecedented clarity. “I feel so small / my feet can barely touch the floor / on the bus where everybody is tall,” she sings softly and with caution, as she begin the album with stalwart ‘The Embers’. Driving ‘punk’ drums pry her song open, exploding it into an anthem that pushes back at entitled people who make others feel tiny. “I’m just a small fish / and you’re a shark that hates everything,” she sings, repeating that line and over and over with strength and power, watching the accompanying vide, I think you’ll agree, Tamko’s star continues on the rise.
Tamko’s songs are embedded with her own story and personal history: growing up in Cameroon, her family’s move to New York and adjusting to culture shock. Her family left Cameroon just in time for her to begin high school in the states. She grew up around music and loved it, but finishing engineering school was a priority before music could start to feel like a real possibility. “When I was in Cameroon, my mom would have these ‘reunions’ which was just her friends coming over on Sundays,” she says. “There was a lot of music around me. Traditional West-African songs sung as group chants, hand drums and percussive instruments being played, etc.” To date, Tamko mostly listens to East and West African music nostalgic of her childhood, styles of music that influence her own in subtle ways.
The debut continues, with lightly delivered lines, “I’ve been hiding in the smallest space / I am dying to go / this is not my home,” on ‘Fear & Force’ her spell continues, especially when the guitars growl and drum beat awakens, another positive alongside the robust throughout of ‘Minneapolis’. But the new Vagabon album is not just by the numbers, their is thought and craft throughout Infinite Worlds’, next up, a five-minute meditation of ambient dream pop, featuring Tamko’s usage of samples, some are samples from a Steve Sobs song on which Tamko was featured, enticing the one writing collaboration of the album. “Mal á L’aise” means “discomfort” in French, Tamko’s first language, and throughout the song she works through different meanings of that word.
The alternative indie flavour rises again for ‘100 Years’ which ticks my box nicely, the quiet / loud, almost lo-fi of of ‘Cleaning House’ to the self explanatory narrative of ‘Cold Apartment’ musically enriched are also strong contenders.
Vagabon’s debut album is easily worth more investigation, speaking personally, something Laetitia Tamko deals in with creative abandon, I’m impressed throughout with the songs of ‘Infinite Worlds’, that’s my only gripe. there are only eight songs, could have got more lost in many more. 8.8/10
BUY VINYL & CD FROM FATHER/DAUGHTER RECORDS
Infinite Worlds is available now via Father/Daughter Records. Vagabon is currently on a full US tour with Allison Crutchfield & The Fizz that includes shows at SXSW.
She heads to the UK and France for the very first time in May, for the following dates
May 21 – Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club (Gold Sounds Festival)
May 22 – Paris, FR @ Espace B (w/ Day Wave)
May 25 – London, UK @ The Waiting Room
May 26 – Manchester, UK @ Dot to Dot Festival
May 27 – Bristol, UK @ Dot to Dot Festival
May 28 – Nottingham, UK @ Dot to Dot Festival