Norwegian six-piece SKAAR makes music that’s appropriately layered for a group with two more people than in the standard rock band arrangement. SKAAR members include vocalist Karla Lesley Jaeger, who contributes solely her voice; Thor Saunes-Skarsgaard, who handles both bass and synth; and two guitarists whose only role is to play guitars. That’s right: SKAAR seems to have no backing vocalists.
Perhaps this is why Jaeger’s voice always sounds so commandeering across “MIO,” SKAAR’s newest song and second single from its upcoming debut album out in February. On “MIO,” which pairs instrumental arrangements that recall Pink Floyd and Radiohead (two influences listed on the band’s Facebook), Jaeger sings with a breathy croon that emanates Gothic fragility during the verses; in the choruses, she sounds as though one of Cupid’s angels is emulating her verse performance. The heavenly trend continues during the song’s bridge, on which Jaeger sounds as though she’s going to break as she approaches the highest portions of her register.
Across the video for “MIO,” hands drenched in colored paint—red, blue, an off-white shade—are seen reaching across Jaeger’s face to smear their colors across her cheeks and forehead. Later in the video, it’s her own arms that are dipped in these hues, and she eventually paints her own face in not just one, but two colors. The underlying narrative seems to be one of regaining control of the external factors that impact her, and “MIO” musically provides a thrilling match for this sort of requisition.
As the song progresses, SKAAR’s guitars, synths, pianos, and drums trend towards a series of immense climaxes that provide chaos without altering the song’s tempo, time signature, and key. The band alters the song’s mood and tension with instrumental passages and changes that are neither unsubtle nor wholly overpowering, placing the listener in a reverie that recalls the indescribable forms of the band’s aforementioned Pink Floyd and Radiohead influences (plus a bit of Opeth, another influence). SKAAR is taking cues from its idols, but it’s not copying them; instead, it’s making undeniably exciting music from their lessons, weaving intricate quilts of sound that can only occur when many people are working as one unbreakable unit.