So working in a band has many advantages - it provides an exchange of ideas, it offers varied perspectives, etc. - but there's also something to be said for those artists who prefer to keep their music to themselves. Getting the best of both worlds is Sebastian Kreuger, operating as Inlets, who seems to make the majority of his creative process a solitary one, but certainly isn't opposed to collaboration. The talented newcomer has recorded or performed with the likes of Fiest and DM Stith, and on his debut LP, Inter Arbiter, he gets some assistance from Beirut frontman Zach Condon and Dirty Projectors vocalist Angel Deradoorian, among others. As a result, his first record often feels like a solo project in its darkly intimate style, but these mostly quiet songs feature striking instrumental backdrops and gorgeous vocal harmonies that help make the music especially compelling.
Kreuger's voice - both beautiful and haunting - weaves between acoustic guitar, subdued horns and banjo in a way that doesn't provide for many outright hooks, yet his intricate melodies and unusual song structures are absorbing just the same. The music of Inlets is brainy, cerebral stuff, and that's where most of its appeal lies, but Kreuger manages to include an emotional edge to his songwriting that allows the music to be accessed from more than just a technical standpoint. Highlights from Inter Arbiter include the constantly shifting "Canteen," the strange and melancholy "Bright Orange Air," and the enjoyably unstable "Famous Looks." It may be his full-length debut, but Kreuger shows a remarkable amount of maturity and depth here - no doubt the result of both a generous amount of creative energy and previously refined musicianship.
Download: "In Which I, Robert"