Indiana, aka Lauren Henson, is a 27-year-old singer/songwriter hailing from Nottingham. The reason she goes by Indiana? Her father, who passed when she was 17, was a big fan of Indiana Jones.
Although she’s hardly on the tip of everybody’s tongues here in the States, last year Indiana had a top 20 hit in the UK with “Solo Dancing,” which some have compared to Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own.” To that end, yes, they do have a similar theme. (Although Indiana’s song is rumored to be about masturbation.) And, yes, they have a somewhat similar sound. But Indiana hasn’t ripped Robyn off. That’s like saying Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” is a rip off of The Beach Boys’ “California Girls.” Well, OK, The Beach Boys did sue Perry over that one, so it’s a bad example, but hopefully you get the idea. “Solo Dancing” and “Dancing On My Own” are as different as apples and oranges. And we haven’t heard Robyn complaining about Indiana’s song, so there’s really no reason for anybody else to.
Just what does Indiana’s “Solo Dancing” sound like? For starters, it begins with relatively quiet, burbling bass and tiny little beats that persist as she cooly sings lyrics like “I go dancing / It’s so intense / I will dance ’til the bitter end.” The way these words slide off of her tongue, they could almost pass for threats. And once it hits the chorus and a louder, thumping beat kicks in two things happen: it becomes danceable and it sounds downright menacing. Clearly, she’s been influenced by artists as diverse as Florence & The Machine and Portishead. And probably even more so by the latter as No Romeo opens with a chilling trip-hop number called “Never Born” that splits the difference between Dawn Richard and FKA twigs. Here, her eerie falsetto even sounds an awful lot like Portishead’s Beth Gibbons. “I’m gonna make you wish you were never born,” she sings. Clearly, she does know how to make threats with her songs.
Later, she sings “I want to burn you a new heart” over darkwavey synths on the somewhat bouncy ballad “New Heart.” If you don’t pay close attention to the lyrics, this one could come across as entirely upbeat, Indiana painting herself as a romantic. However, about two thirds through the song she sings “Is this the part where I’m supposed to say I still love you so?”, soon followed by, “Watching me is to see me go.”
People compare Indiana to Banks and Lorde and that’s fair. They all mix wonderful electronic beats with intelligent lyrics and have unique voices. But there’s something else they all have in common: five star debuts.