White Shoes & the Couples Company

White Shoes & The Couples Company

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White Shoes & the Couples Company is hands down the best indie pop band to call Jakarta home. On their debut self-titled album, the six-piece group creates a sound so smooth, rich, and frothy that any town with a sweet tooth for pop music would be glad to claim them. Mixing the open and friendly vocals of Aprilia Apsari with accomplished and imaginative backing from the rest of the group, White Shoes have an incredibly warm and inviting sound that betrays the influence of soft rock, disco, bossa nova, Indonesian film music, jazz and '80s indie pop. The closest comparison one might be able to make is to very early Everything But the Girl, only White Shoes has a much lighter and not at all gloomy touch. The album is so light it feels like it might float away at any second, carrying you along to the heavens with a warm feeling spreading throughout your weightless body. The gently strummed guitars, lightly brushed drums, polite keyboards, and soaring strings (courtesy of the band's secret weapon April Mela Prawidiyanti) are arranged just so, and Apsari's voice (whether singing in English or Indonesian) is perfectly angelic throughout. When she's joined by the rest of the band in harmony, it can take you to some very nice places. Preferably someplace warm, but with a cool breeze on your neck and a soothing beverage in hand. And of course White Shoes & the Couples Company playing on the radio. Songs like "Windu & Defrina," a mid-tempo bossa nova inflected tune that shifts halfway through into a foot-tapping jazz dancer, or the bubbly "Topstar," do actually sound like radio hits beamed in from the mid-'70s that should have been. Other songs are near-perfect pieces of dramatic, cinematic atmosphere (the epic-length strings and woodwind version of one of the record's best songs, "Nothing to Fear"), cotton candy pop ("Brother John," "Tentang Cita"), and reflective, tender balladry ("Runaway Song," "Senadung Maaf"). It adds up to a masterful debut from a band overflowing with ideas and blessed with the talent to bring them to life. Another record this good and we may have to change that opening line to read "one of the best indie pop bands period."

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