Vagabon – Vagabon

Stripped back and rich, Vagabon's genre-spanning second album is an incandescent and undefinable triumph

Album Review by Bethany Davison | 14 Oct 2019
  • Vagabon - Vagabon
Album title: Vagabon
Artist: Vagabon
Label: Nonesuch Records
Release date: 18 Oct

Even on first listen, it's undeniable that Vagabon, Lætitia Tamko’s self-titled second record, is infinite. In its thematic complexity it offers so much to interpretation that its warmth and inclusivity is vast; in its colourfully emotional soundscapes, it transgresses the ability to be defined under any one genre. Where its drum beats are pulsating, its string arrangements palpitate. Where loneliness seems to be a central focus, the importance of community is incandescent.

'Our bodies lie unresponsive', Tamko croons, as the record opens with the hauntingly lush Full Moon In Gemini. Setting her voice at its forefront, there's an immediate sense of folkish storytelling that carries throughout the record, indicative of a closeness between Tamko and Vagabon. As the track, in its brief intensity, fades out into whispering vocals and loudened strings, the end feels almost premature, necessitating that the record concludes with a Full Moon reprise.

Water Me Down permeates with an enduring warmth. Through her amalgamation of indulgently rich thumping drums and balmy synth-like strings, Tamko succeeds in blending dusky bedroom pop with a balladry that supersedes any attempt to give her music a singular definition. The soundscape soon sees a seismic shift by way of the more sombre, finger-picked acoustic, West African-inspired In a Bind.

Where Home Soon is a slow-burning winter sunrise and Please Don’t Leave the Table is an electronically rich, fragmented call for company, Secret Medicine seems to be a combination of the two: a slow-starting fragmentation of fluttering snare and synth. 'I know I’m a mess / I change my mind and I’m back at it again' she confesses, again opening the door to interpretation.

Contemplating ideas of home, alienation, the human desire for community, against rich bedroom-pop beats and folk-inspired vocals, Vagabon is a record both stripped back yet electronically rich, genre disparate, but ultimately inclusive. A rewarding listen, it's an achievement beyond comprehension.

Listen to: Water Me Down, Secret Medicine, Home Soon