For Indistinct Conversations, Land Of Talk songwriter Elizabeth Powell stepped back, drifting from their usual oblique guitar to mellower acoustic strumming in an intentional effort of taking up less space. On the band’s fourth album that makes for a mood of contemplation and restraint with words coming at a level delivery as if only after a well-felt moment of thought.
Indistinct Conversations, still holds interesting textures in high regard, though more so in the use of layered tones or horn arrangements which come from drummer Mark “Bucky” Wheaton who produced the album along with Powell and bassist Chris McCarron. It’s a largely middling atmosphere throughout—mid-paced tempos, dynamics that are notable but not explosive, and melodies that mostly defer rather than demand attention. Paired with the inclusion of more abstract, even stream of consciousness lyrics and occasional samplings of casual conversations in the background, that feels purposeful here.
“Diaphanous” introduces the album at perhaps its most textural with a swelling arrangement, propelled by what is likely Wheaton’s production, pushing it onward. “Look To You (Intro)” sets the titular tone with voices spinning around barely loud enough for words to come through. “Weight Of The Weekend” maintains the pensive mood but does so with guitars that seem to float and a drum beat that stays simple enough to not intrude but snappy enough to anchor Powell’s thoughts (“this is a prayer for love, cause I’m not sleeping”) to the ground.
Elsewhere the songs often seem to drift, not so stream of consciousness in constant uncensored realizations but in the way that Powell meanders over the gauzy chords like clouds that drift behind them and eventually settles on a realization. “If your mouth is a festival there’s a song in the way you speak” they sing over what might be a breeze and a guitar on “Festivals.” Sticking out from those clouds are the more energized moments like the fuzzy riff of “Footnotes,” written while isolating indoors from an aggressive neighbor, or “A/B Futures” which adds buzzy synths and more crooked guitar lines as the song progresses.
The album’s titular closing track delivers an anti-climax, collaging together more sampled chatter with woozy, abstract guitar. In the end, Indistinct Conversations leans toward the unobtrusive. Land Of Talk chooses a relative modesty in letting the texture and ambience of mood lead throughout the album. Still, if not persuaded by the gentler breeze, the songs occasionally push a strong wind.