In my writing experience at DOA, I’ve heard pop songs from France, Spain, Japan, and several other non-US countries, but this is my first experience with an Indonesian band. The delightful self-titled album from the sextet with the retro name slinks into your consciousness like an unexpected present, bringing sweet and savory love songs, clap-along pop numbers, and playful numbers that could soundtrack your favorite art flick.
The art school classmates cite 1970s movie soundtracks as an influence. With a mixture of keys, flutes, and cello to accompany Sari’s beautiful voice, the results are at times beautiful, at times light and charming. Even the little music interludes here and there are pleasant listens.
One of the album’s true gems is the opener (technically the second track), “Nothing to Fear,” a beautiful track riding soft guitar and cello and rich female vocals. It has a haunting quality similar to The October Project but with a light, pop sensibility. The song later shows up again (titled “Woodwind Version”) at more than eight minutes and now filled with woodwind instruments, giving it a light, soaring quality. It’s contrasted by another favorite, the playfully retro-poppy “Tentang Cita” that has a nice Pizzicato Five vibe.
The album features upbeat pop songs like “Windu & Defrina” with its hand claps and catchy (if non-English) chorus, the Bettie Serveert-style pop of “Sunday Morning Lane,” and the head-bobbing Stereolab-influenced “Top Shot.” But what strikes me most are the more somber tracks, usually featuring acoustic guitar and cello or flute, like “Nothing to Fear” and “Runaway Song.” The groovy “Sabda Alam,” which closes the album, features plenty of horns and swaying bass with an almost bossa nova vibe.
It would be nearly impossible not to like White Shoes & The Couples Company. Sure, this retro-minded pop may not be your thing, but these songs are lovely and playful and even at their most somber moments delightful. This is a pretty little gem of pop music that absolutely deserves a widespread US audience.