Floatie – Voyage Out
Floatie deliver mesmeric off-kilter guitars and Rubik’s cube-like song structures in their debut full length
Floatie is a new name to me, on the renowned Exploding in Sound label. Despite having no recordings prior to this release, the band had been building up a strong reputation on the Chicago live scene, as well as through shows with acts such as label mainstays Pile. In late 2019, the band recorded a full-length at Chicago’s Pallet Sound with Seth Engle which resulted in debut release ‘Voyage Out’.
From first track ‘Shiny’ the band sets off on a gripping angular trajectory with palm-muted guitars and tight rhythmic drumming, before opening out into an expansive chorus. It’s the ideal introduction to the wonky world of interlocking guitars and evocative storytelling that the album steadily operates.
This isn’t to say that the sonic environment of ‘Voyage Out’ is ever predictable. Every time the tangled instrumentation threatens to settle into a groove, the rhythm section has a tendency to reconstruct and dip into a different pace, with tracks evolving and changing shape in line with the gripping vocals. There’s a kinetic energy running through the entire tracklist, but where Floatie may differ from their labelmates most is in their restraint, keeping these songs light-footed and rarely straying into noise territory. Instead, the band favour building passages and intelligent dynamic shifts that carefully balance repetition with a desire to sonically expand and contract.
Lead single ‘Catch a Good Worm’ is a great example of this in full effect, with the track kicking off with explosive guitar bursts before settling into a tight bouncy groove. The slow burning synth line through the verse grows into an affirming musing on identity, presented in the form of a worm that becomes confused upon catching a glimpse of its own reflection. Although stylistically gentle throughout much of the record, vocalist Sam Berns’ lyrics add abstract and philosophical themes that evoke a world of their own, while being grounded in a deep frustration at very real issues. It’s intelligent lyricism that is both relatable and hard-hitting but often more metaphorical in its presentation.
At just under 28 minutes, ‘Voyage Out’ delivers a sharp, mesmeric experience that is packed with personality, cohesion and quirkiness that never lets up.
‘Voyage Out’ is out now via Exploding in Sound Records.