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Album Review: Indica – Shine

Photo: Heilemania

If you don’t know Indica, forget about this review and listen to ‘In Passing’ on Youtube right now. They are incredible. Finnish all girl band who have made quite a name for them in their homeland but only recently made their English speaking debut alongside the behemoth metal label Nuclear Blast. It’s quite a simple formula really – no life-changing stuff but plenty of emotive, touching passages and gorgeous symphonic soundscapes. Pop-metal it’s called, I suppose – though in the case of Indica, the ratios are much more in favour of the former genre.

There is no shame in having a mellow record, Adele will tell you that, but following on from the pomp and bombast of ‘A Way Away’, Indica present ‘Shine’ which runs for twelve tracks, nine of which are mid-tempo or ballad. As a result, ‘Shine’ feels a lot more of a struggle to get through as a whole. The thing that is hard to ignore is that their English album boasted some mammoth rockier tunes (‘Straight and Arrow’, ‘Scissor Paper Rock’, ‘Islands of Light’) – so we know that Indica have it in them to pack more of a punch. Another issue with the album is that the genre is undefined. ‘A Mountain Made Of Stone”s symphonic touches, ‘Uncovered’ with it’s pop vibe, ‘Here and Now”s indie rock chorus…it doesn’t feel coherent. Emphasis has to lie on the fact that the songs aren’t awful – there isn’t an intrinsically bad song in the bunch – but they don’t gel together and that can be quite jarring, particularly when tackling the album as a whole.

On the brighter side of ‘Shine’ (see what I did there!), lead single ‘A Definite Maybe’ is Eurovision pop rock at it’s best. The chorus is infectious and radio-friendly with stunning vocal lines that morph the simpler verses into the feel-good chorus. Opening track ‘A Mountain Made of Stone’ has some Abba touches to it’s slow-burning charm and can also brag that it brings the biggest crescendo on the record with it’s final hook. The album’s titular hook comes through on ‘Behind The Walls’, another optimistic burst of pop rock that justifies it’s steadier tempo , sounding crisp and evocative. ‘Goodbye To Berlin’ is album track material but is anything but a wallflower – one of the few uptempo songs, it has a bouncy, excitable refrain that makes further use of Jonsu’s enviable ability to write addictive vocal lines. It’s one of Indica’s strongest elements.

Burdened by their own brilliance, ‘A Way Away’ did have the advantage of being, essentially, a best-of collection recorded in another language and ‘Shine’ pales in comparison to it. Ambition and development are evident but when the quality of the output pays the price, it’s quite difficult to appreciate. By no means is ‘Shine’ awful though – it has a handful of tracks that ensure the Indica flame is still flickering and I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt as I wait longingly for the drama to return on English-album number three. As a collection of songs ‘Shine’ is a decent package with plenty to boast about, but as a cohesive album, it falls short of it’s predecessor and peers. A shame really, as at their best, Indica are one of the most talented pop-metal bands on the scene today.

Words: Simon McMurdo

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