Somebody's been doing their homework.

Somebody's been doing their homework.

Nascent bands tend to mimic their influences, leading to a surplus of copycat tracks. The best of them dig under the surface to figure out how their favorite bands operate and eventually learn to synthesize those sounds into something fresh.

A quick listen to Indigo Wild's demo from last summer shows a band in those early stages, still sounding a lot like a teenage fan club (though nothing like Teenage Fanclub). Their jazzy, math-rock-inspired "dream-groove" aesthetic was already in place, but from song to song you'd find indigestibly large chunks of Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes and such floating in the stew.

From the sound of Friday's show at Carabar, they're in the process of transcending those formative steps. And while they're not all the way there, a year of playing around Columbus and Cincinnati has left them sharp enough to impress even during the occasional fits of outright imitation. I haven't seen a bunch of scrubbed-up Columbus youngsters tackle indie rock with such aplomb since Loyal Divide was still in town.

The bands I've mentioned so far should tip you off to many of this crew's defining traits. They like to chant and harmonize, both of which they pull off infectiously on "Rowboats," the lead single from their upcoming "If By Sea" EP (release party Sept. 9 at Kobo). They also make the most of their percussion, be it Jason Winner's rolling toms and snares or frontman Garet Camella sporadically trading his guitar for drumsticks at center stage.

Perhaps their strongest suit is their seamless shifts between moods. In one song Friday they segued from airy atmospherics into an exultant onslaught that finally dissolved into a heavy groove. It's hard to tell yet whether they have anything interesting to say, as the only line I caught Friday was some poetry about serious conversations in Hocking Hills, but like their forefathers Death Cab for Cutie, they make music evocative enough to lend credibility to all sorts of melancholic rambling.

Listeners who demand unbridled punk-rock fury or liquor-gargling excess might not find much use for Indigo Wild, but those who share their appreciation for big-font festival bands ought to perk up their ears now.