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Vök (IS) – “Night and Day”

Anyone who knows Icelandic music knows Vök. It’s really that simple. The band has become a staple of Iceland Airwaves‘ yearly lineups (and, of course, they’ll play again this year), and folks in the US including Stereogum, Noisey, and KEXP have sung their praises.

This is all for good reason: Vök’s electropop is as propulsive as it is moody, a sonic space in which listeners can get lost as easily as they can find a steady soundtrack for a modestly paced walk to work.  Margrét Rán’s vocals are reliably effusive, as piercing and regal as they are wintry and distraught, and Andri Már and Einar Hrafn (and, up until this year, Ólafur Alexander) manage to find the exact blend of peripheral saxophone, boom-bap percussion, and dripping synths to pull further dejection from her singing.

Or at least that’s what used to make Vök good. On “Night and Day,” the band’s newest single from an as-yet-unnamed album it plans to release early next year, Vök takes the elements that have for years comprised its eloquent, melancholic, trip-hop-adjacent songs and uses them to make…a banger. “Night and Day” is a cheerful, bouncing tune that’s more early Vampire Weekend than it is Massive Attack.

It’s a sound that happens to suit Vök well. “Night and Day” subverts the band’s foundation while keeping its cooling charm intact. The synths warble as potently as ever, but now their effect is one of major-key boom. The percussion pops and snaps, but now it establishes a glorious hop and skip rather than a shifty, dreadful one. Rán’s singing still reaches for the stratosphere, but now it actually reaches it. And so does the entire band.

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