The release of Laetitia Tamko’s second album as Vagabon faced a last minute delay, when the title was changed from All The Women In Me to the simplicity of a self-titled statement. The flex of this move is reflected in the album itself: a short, assured set that represents a sonic shift, but retains Tamko’s singularity of vision.
Where debut album Infinite Worlds was largely built around a lo-fi indie rock aesthetic, Vagabon switches to a sonic palette of synths and electronics. The instrumentation is soft and sprawling, with washes of synths suggesting expanse and light. Tamko’s voice is clear and gently commanding at the centre, trusting her instincts as she seems to deconstruct melodies and repeat lines as if by chance. On opener “Full Moon in Gemini”, she trips on the central phrase – “when you won’t be around anymore” – over and over, trying out new meaning with vocal emphasis. Lyrically, she excels at the specifics of internal emotional drama and the nuances of relationships. “Please Don’t Leave The Table” details the microaggressions and tension of a one-sided relationship (with a cute nod to “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child).
The mood is consistently introspective, with the album’s most confessional moment coming at its centre: “In A Bind” finds Tamko in the midst of personal crisis, announcing that “My body’s gone awry/And my love is in a bind” accompanied by minimal acoustic guitar. Tamko is joined at the end by a reassuring chorus of backing singers, self-soothing in a dark moment. Like recent releases by Robyn or Solange, this expansive and beautiful record shows Vagabon as an expert at creating pleasure and soulful reassurance from electronic pop – a surprising but welcome heelturn.