In a just world, Swedish quartet KÅRP would be as massively popular as its obvious influences are. Then again, “obvious influences” is an imperfect phrase in regards to KÅRP; although the band’s reverence of Robyn, The Knife, and Lykke Li are about as blatant as signs of decay on an avocado, there is just no one else who sounds exactly like KÅRP right now.
“Devotion,” KÅRP’s fourth single to date, boasts the sort of dazzlingly produced, thrillingly dark dance pop sound that the average band would finally reach after four albums. Within the song’s first 15 seconds, KÅRP introduce ghastly, beckoning female vocals, light synthetic arpeggios, heavy synthetic bass gulps, and another full layer of creaking synthetic arpeggios. It’s immediately clear that “Devotion” is heading for a climactic spectacle of a sonic explosion, and the song follows through on this promise about 45 seconds in.
That’s when the magic happens. After a brief pause, a rushing layer of instrumentation is blended in with the established palette to accelerate “Devotion” from an intriguing, brooding synthpop nightmare into the utterly bleak yet irresistibly danceable dark pop tune KÅRP implies from the song’s start. For the remainder of the song’s far-too-short three-and-a-half minutes, the adventure only gets wilder.
At times, it can feel like KÅRP is adding a new synth or percussion layer to “Devotion” every 15 seconds. This is key. Without the continual feeling of expansion, of growth that this structure, this layering contributes, “Devotion” might sound just like, you know, those obvious Swedish idols.
But it doesn’t. It’s far more exciting than a mere replica; it bursts from the page with life and vigor, its chords, timbres, and instrumentation ensuring a dark edge to all the fun. “All I require is pure motion,” goes a lyric from the chorus, as though KÅRP knows it’s created one of the most visceral, brooding, body-shaking dance tracks of the year.