Vagabon, “Sorry I Haven’t Called”
By Ann-Derrick Gaillot · September 21, 2023 Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)

The poppy, dance-rock tracks that make up Sorry I Haven’t Called reflect the fact that Laetitia Tamko, who performs as Vagabon, is embracing a new sound. That fluid, boundry-less approach is very much in her wheelhouse. Her charging debut Infinite Worlds reflected her early hears playing DIY house shows, while her soul-stirring follow-up Vagabon explored more mystical spaces. Both paired heady melodies with sage lyricism to create songs that hit right in the gut. Her latest album, Sorry I Haven’t Called, is more playful experience, but no less profound.

Co-produced by Tamko and Rostam (Batmanglij, formerly of Vampire Weekend), the first think you notice about Sorry I Haven’t Called’s is its lightness: Opener “Can I Talk My Shit,” begins with ethereal ahh‘s against bright guitar, claves, and bird song before Tamko sings the question that gives the song its title. With lyrics like “You’re confessin’/ I’m undressin’” and “I am way too high for this,” the song sets the template for an album that is earnest without ever being self-serious. Throughout, Tamko pairs familiar Top 40 with spirited reflections on being present in the moment. Dreamy bop “Lexicon” is a bright entry into the “dance the night away” school of pop radio, Tamko blissfully declaring, “Our lexicon is gone when we dance all night” over glittering guitar and sizzling hi-hats. “Carpenter” combines Afrobeat rhythms and synth-pop production on track about understanding someone else’s perspective.

 Tamko leads with the airier side of her rich voice on Sorry, but still leaves plenty of room for vocal experimentation—as on “Made Out with Your Best Friend,” where she sings over a patchwork of samples of her voice. On “Passing Me By,” she sings from the chest, voice pitched down, about riding the waves of life’s changes: “Lookin’ around to everyone that I know/ Passing me by in a street where we all used to be/ Comparing notes, checkin’ it twice/ Hopin’ I get somethin’ right while I’m still alive.” The lyrics gesture toward the album’s deeper theme of loss: It’s dedicated to musician Eric Littman, Tamko’s friend and collaborator, who died in 2021.

As a whole, Sorry I Haven’t Called invites to dance with joy, grief, and all the uncertainties in between. A refuge of lightness in the aftermath of dark times, it’s a testament to the value of taking each chapter of life as it comes.


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