It’s not easy standing out it in the conveyor belt of indie bands these days, but that’s an impressive feat the Netherlands-based Klangstof have managed. It’s barely been over a year since they first emerged, the brainchild of Radiohead aficionado Koen van de Wardt, but mellow alternative fare like Hostage has meant a fast-track to this here debut album, Close Eyes To Exit.
Like most debut albums, however, Klangstof do find it difficult to find the line between homage and their own identity, though they make that process of discovery quite enjoyable. Whether it’s the cosmic synth of Sleaze, which twinkles brightly even as its vocal navigates meditative lower reaches, or the expansive Island, there are moments here that really do mark them out as future indie contenders. That latter track in particular is as memorable as an album closer can get, a yearn from that eponymous land as waves of drum and guitar crash around it for a rousing finale.
It does help that they’re not averse to the odd electronic beep or embracing a level of quirk, but there are times when that borders on ever-so-slightly annoying. The melodies punctuating the title track and Seasons aren’t as endearing as they’d perhaps like to think, and neither does the instrumental opening of Nintendo do justice to either its own title (where the Wario at) nor any discernible statement of cohesion in the album.
Still, this is by far one of the better examples of the genre we’ve had from a new band, and certainly more refined indie than our own country seems to be producing right now. It’s easy to get lost in the mellifluous nature of Ignore Me, and even easier to visualise how all of these songs could be propelled to festival-sized glory in a live setting. They tick the boxes of rousing choruses, themes of disillusionment and, er, technological motifs, but most importantly they give us an intelligent and muscular take on the guitar-driven sound. Close eyes to exit, then, but make sure you pick up a souvenir or two on the way to remind you of a time the scene wasn’t riddled with Catfish and the fucking Bottlemen.