Brooklynite Monica Lionheart, who sings with the bands Pacha Massive and Zigmat, offers much to dream by with her debut album, Indian Summer. These 11 songs are the stuff that sitting outside on a blanket staring at a starry sky are made of, winding their way into your cranium in beleaguering and subtle ways. There are hints of folk, country, pop, and trip-hop in equal measure, and, for the most part, the eclecticism hangs together rather well. What’s more, there are even two Spanish-language tracks (the R&B-influenced “Sombras” and the airy, flamenco-touched “Relámpago”), which gives the album an otherworldly feel. At times, Indian Summer reaches for the more intimately bedroom moments of Canada’s Broken Social Scene, though she detours into New Wave-y territory with the delightful and much-too-short “Escape Strategy” and “A Place”, which both boast a children’s choir and recall Depeche Mode’s classic Violator. Overall, the layers and professional sheen of Indian Summer are simultaneously effortless in feel, and the record feels very sophisticated and adult. Clearly, this is the work of an artist with a knack for the slinky and multi-textured feel of dream-pop.
However, there are a few problems with Indian Summer: In particular, the Spanish tracks are a little jarring and feel like they’ve sort of been beamed in from a different record, sort of halting the flow cold – though I’m certainly not dissuading anyone from singing in a foreign language and including such songs on a release. The problem might be more with the sequencing, and it might have been better if the two items in question were positioned a bit closer together. As well, listeners will start to get lost in the meandering nature of a few songs, only to stop dead in their tracks, which is kind of ironic considering the warm fall seasonal nature implied by the disc’s title as the effect might leave some feeling a bit chilled. However, Indian Summer is a compelling debut, one worthy of revisiting time and again – preferably in the wee hours of the night, right around the time that the bars shut their doors.