SINGLE REVIEW: "IDK" BY VAN HOUTEN
Proving their continuing maturation on their enchanting latest single “IDK”, Leeds slacker-rock quintet Van Houten remind us all of the pressing fears of mundane life with the gentlest touch.
Stalwart icons of the Leeds music scene Van Houten sit at a place that most bands would envy. With tunes that somehow feel comfortingly familiar on one hand and refreshingly exciting on the other and a hard-working attitude that contrasts sharply with their meltingly woozy aesthetic, the Leeds five-piece have a seemingly unrelenting output of music that consistently finds itself on heavy rotation. From their steady stream of singles and EPs on Leeds’s Clue Records to their unforgettable live sessions and gigs, the indie slackers have quickly branded themselves as a group who will not disappoint no matter which walks of life their audience come from.
After their Home Alone EP that arrived in 2020 and their raw and driven Live At Eiger Studios session the stage seemed set for Van Houten to reach new heights. Luckily with their latest single “IDK” it seems that they remain on course. With the trademark laidback drums and beautifully grooving bass lines “IDK” feels instantly familiar to anyone who’s listened to the group before. With the cozy warmth of a distant organ in the mix against the band’s expertly intimate Mac DeMarco-ian guitar parts you really get the sense that the group has mastered the art of arranging music for a laid-back summer. Never quite reaching the furor that some Van Houten tracks have reached, “IDK” knows it's at its best when laid back.
Instantly inviting replay, the tune proves, however, that it has got a foreboding darkness to it. As frontman Louis Sadler sings with an ever mellow presence he might fool you into thinking you’re listening to a crooning ballad about love and romance. Yet when examining his words on the track you find that the song comes from a place of fear that we can all relate to. As Sadler himself notes, the track is about “reluctantly accepting the fact that you have no real control over what is next”. As he sings about finding out that he still doesn’t know where the future lies, the once bright tune taps into an anxiety shared across the human population. Somehow yet, though, Van Houten turn that feeling of wayward lack of direction into a sonic pillow that stays in your ears for days on end.
“IDK” in the end proves to be the sum of many emotions. Fear and melancholy are undoubtedly abundant but, yet, a relieving relatability is inescapable too. While I can’t speak for everyone’s emotional response to the group’s latest venture, I can encourage you all to go and find out what “IDK” does for you. The only result I can promise is that you won’t be disappointed.
"IDK" is out now on Clue Records. Stream or purchase on Bandcamp:
Writing by Varun Govil
Photography by Sam Joyce