Published Jul 28, 2020Scattered across Land of Talk's fourth album are interest-piquing fragments of chitchat. You can pick out "Fuck you, Debbie," or "When the screensaver turns off, I was looking at that" like you were passing a streetside conversation, but the full context never follows.
The songs around those snippets, however, are vibrant and clear, delivered with dreamy guitar-work and reflective lyrics. Effectively an inversion of its own title, Indistinct Conversations finds songwriter Elizabeth Powell amplifying quieter, more internal moments, carving space for clarity amid chatter and fray.
The instrumentation is anchored by acoustics — more than on previous Land of Talk releases— which shapes the intimate atmosphere Powell's exploring. Album opener "Diaphanous" uses a steady riff to process personal reflections, while guitars eventually drop out of "Love in 2 Stages," letting Powell's voice and the rhythm section carry key moments.
Fittingly, some of the album's finest moments are its quietest: "Festivals" is a gorgeous ode, offering lines like "If your mouth is a festival, there's a song in the way you speak." Elsewhere, "Now You Want to Live in the Light" offers a minimalist focus: it's mostly strum-and-voice, with additional instrumentation cropping up to underscore what's already there without stealing focus.
Of course, Powell can still plug in and rip up a fretboard when they want to: "Footnotes" balances on a recurring, hypnotic riff, and "A/B Futures" lets a striding guitar line carry declarations like "I'm your future lover / there's me, there's no one else." With that, Indistinct Conversations doesn't so much pare back as it does reveal depths: Powell's putting their inner life on display, and giving it the full range of space and volume it deserves. (Dine Alone)