Durand Jones And The Indications’ aim has always been clear: to write songs so tightly crafted – so serenely smooth and intensely soulful – that they can be a balm for the lacerations of daily living. The Indiana five-piece wear their influences boldly on their sleeves – whipsmart funk, vintage R&B and velvety progressive soul – and back them up with supremely tight playing, lavish instrumentation and razor-sharp high-low harmonies.
- READ MORE: Durand Jones & The Indications: “Not since the ‘70s has there been such an appetite for soul music”
It’s a solid formula, but the problem is that after a while it becomes a little, well, formulaic. The band seem aware of this on their third album ‘Private Space’, which broadens their palette significantly, incorporating bubbling synths, a sweep of glistening disco, a smattering of classic hip-hop and the occasional flash of modern pop.
This is still a retro record, but The Indications are not detached from modern reality. Another part of that tried-and-tested formula is that they open every record with a song that directly addresses the world in which it was created – in ‘Private Space’’s case a world stricken by the isolation of a pandemic and the intensification of campaigns for racial equality. “Folks overtaken by disease, all the people lost made me fall right onto my knees.” Jones sings over an expansive mid-tempo beat. “I got so down being alone, watching modern day lynchings in the streets that I call home.”
From there on out, the songs are all out escapism. The supreme electro-funk cut ‘Witchoo’ is an unabashed celebration of human interaction; drinks flowing, music pumping, clothes immaculate. There are love songs on top of love songs: the smoky slow-jam ‘Private Space’, the joyous and summery ‘Ride Or Die’ and the raunchy ‘Sexy Thang’. A theme emerges of the power of love and connection, the only solution to the mire humanity finds itself in. On the final track ‘I Can See’, they make that clear: “We can’t make it on our own, there’s another way / Through the darkness all alone, there’s a brighter day.”
As with everything The Indications do, ‘Private Space’ is incredibly listenable, yet for all their efforts to expand their sound, they still rest often on the formula of old. Infectious as their music is, you’re still left wondering what might be possible should a group this talented depart from it entirely and go somewhere grittier for more than just one track per record. For now, though, they remain the undisputed modern champions of totally transporting soul.
Release date: July 30
Record label: Dead Oceans