Floatie, “Voyage Out”

Floatie
Voyage Out
EXPLODING IN SOUND
7/10

After spending the past couple years quietly making waves in the Chicago scene, Floatie are finally ready to escape their shell with their wonderfully disorienting debut album Voyage Out making a pretty convincing case for the band being one of the best kept secrets in the Midwest. Shuffling between elastic rhythms and ecstatic grooves, the self-described “frog rock” quartet conjure up a dizzying universe all their own, making for one of the most fully realized debuts of the year. There are passages of math rock, art pop, and jazz all throughout the nine tracks that make up Voyage Out, but to pigeonhole the band into just one of those genres would be a great disservice to them.

In their sound you can find shades of bands like Krill and Palm—with whom they’re now labelmates—or fellow Chicago rockers Moontype in Floatie’s genetic makeup, but the truth is that there’s nobody else quite like them. Album opener “Shiny” features knotted, interlocking guitar lines, creating just enough space for Luc Schutz’s jittery drumming to propel the entire song toward one anxious burst of energy after another. More so than anything else on Voyage Out, the track highlights the young band’s approach to making music—at any moment these songs could fall apart and be crushed under the weight of their off-kilter sensibilities, but they never do. 

With the help of producer Seth Engel the band has managed to capture lightning in a bottle, delivering energetic performances and woozy melodies that are unforgettable. Tracks like “Water Recipe” and “Catch a Good Worm,” where riffs become tangled and eventually unravel into themselves like an ouroboros, are both dreamy and alluring, showcasing the band’s chemistry together. This close-knit relationship between band members not only influences them as musicians, it’s the heart and soul of every second on Voyage Out.

When you look past the album’s captivating musicality you’ll find a record that’s grappling with the sense of wanting to belong in many different shapes and forms. On “In the Night” frontperson Sam Bern sings, “And as if my eyes were closed / I don’t see what they see,” their nearly monotone delivery punctuating the uneasiness of feeling out of place in your own skin. Similarly, “The Envoy” tackles those themes by way of existential thinking, with the line, “Are you aware when you’re awake / I only know when I’m not.” This kind of hypnotic imagery slowly bleeds into the album’s painstaking arrangements and the end result, like everything else on Voyage Out, is mesmerizing.

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