Vår – No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers

Space is the first thing you feel more than anything: it’s an outdoors sound, big sweeping plains of synth, balanced against vicious, coruscating stabs and blurts of beat, elements that are not that far away from the sonic outrages Conny Schnitzler used to knock out.

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OK. We all know who is in Vår and where they’re from. You should know they’re getting attention, and we’d like to add that it’s thoroughly deserved.

Let’s say right now that this is a monstrously good record; somehow the band makes a LOT out of very little. And I reckon that is a BIG feather in their cap, as the amount of LPs I’ve heard, (just to take me, as an example of one reviewer among many), that miss by miles in this sort of modern cold wave vein is legion. Tracks like Motionless and No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers are tremendous, maybe it’s the fact that there’s an appreciation from the band in making a sound that is both challenging and appealing. That may sound banal or bloody obvious on written down but I really think sometimes artists go up their own arse in making records of this kind, enjoying the comfort blanket of hiding behind grey slabs of noise whilst uttering indecipherable lyrics – all in the hope of sounding important or “deep”.  

Not this record.

It reminds me in parts of Empires and Dance, Simple Minds’ greatest moment, or Associates’ Fourth Drawer Down or Magazine’s Correct Use of Soap, with that sense of voyeurism played off an alienating but pulsating soundscape. It's also packed to the gunnels with a very European take on melancholy and space. Space is the first thing you feel more than anything: it’s an outdoors sound, big sweeping plains of synth, balanced against vicious, coruscating stabs and blurts of beat, elements that are not that far away from the sonic outrages Conny Schnitzler used to knock out.  It sounds like music for the outdoors: Duties sounding like a train slowly pulling out of a station in Schleswig Holstein – it’s all very Q Quarters or Zug… whereas Hair Like Feathers seems to use the sound of the waves crashing against a beach. Last track Katla is a howl into a deserted night.

It’s a very theatrical record too, the vox sometimes coming across like declamations. Iceage’s penchant for live theatrics has seemingly been diverted into making oratories: the song titles demand your attention, and the titles have a feeling that they should be read out on a stage.

But most of all the record has clearly defined tracks, things that are all recognisable and independent of each other, but belong together. Into Distance being a very different beast from the track that preceded it, Boy. You never feel that this LP has been thrown together or that the band ran out of ideas and had to stick filler in. No this is a very complete, self-sufficient record, supremely confident and possessing a magnificent sense of balance and occasion.