thu 23/03/2023

CD: Vök - In the Dark | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Vök - In the Dark

CD: Vök - In the Dark

Too-muted second album from downbeat Icelanders

Vök's 'In the Dark': tightly clenched

Although In the Dark comprises 11 tracks of outward-facing contemporary North European electronica-infused, dance-edged pop along the lines of “Faded”, the 2015 international hit helmed by Norwegian DJ/producer Alan Walker, an undercurrent implies a fondness for the Eighties.

The evidence racks up. “Scarcity” sports a vocoder-like vocal effect. The title track and album opener suggests a familiarity with the keyboard saturation of Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes”. The stuttering effects on “Erase You” and “Round Two” are akin to what cropped up when sampling keyboards became endemic. And a fair amount of the bloopy keyboard pulse evokes that running through Madonna’s earliest chart smashes. Pushing the calendar on, there are also nods to trip-hop.

Beyond what’s stylistically embraced, the overarching defining characteristic of the second album from Iceland’s Vök is the yearning voice of singer Margrét Rán Magnúsdóttir. In the main, she sounds wounded but is mixed back into the instrumental bedding. On the moody, shuffling reflection “Fantasia” though, she is up front, takes flight and makes the case for herself as a top-flight soul balladeer.

Such letting go is what the muted In the Dark could do with more of. The album feels reigned-in, tightly clenched and doesn’t provide enough of a platform for Magnúsdóttir and the song’s melodies which are, unfortunately, too frequently buried. On their own, individual tracks work a treat but on album a more direct, looser and more spontaneous approach would have made for greater impact. Still, if there is an opening for a very downbeat foil for Chvrches, Vök are the prime candidate.

Kieron Tyler’s website

When singer Margrét Rán Magnúsdóttir takes flight, she makes the case for herself as a top-flight soul balladeer


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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