Once shrouded in almost complete mystery, Vår have now emerged from the shadows to present a beautiful, frightening, startling debut. What started as the lo-fi basement project of friends Elias Bender Rønnenfelt and Loke Rahbek has now evolved into a full and completely novel four-piece. The sounds on No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers— which range from rich and evocative to striking and scary– more than speak for themselves, but still, Vår have a habit of hiding behind them. Who are these young men, exactly? Is Vår an Iceage side project? A dark dance duo? Or something else entirely?
Immediately, these questions beg for answers as No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers strikes its opening chords. “Begin to Remember” is an aptly eerie introduction to the album, the murky, introspective overture that commences a tumultuous, twisted symphony of nine songs. The track’s hypnotic creaking eventually gives way to “The World Fell,” an unexpected dance number that is no less ominous in tone. Here, we swap Rønnenfelt’s angelic vocals for Rahbek’s dark baritone, which moves boldly and gracefully among the shadows of the standout track. “No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers” reads like a manifesto, especially when a deadpan female voice (Pharmakon’s Margaret Chardiet) proclaims, “death is in the smallest things, even.” Fittingly, the title track is a beautiful tragedy, like a suicide note read aloud post-mortem.
No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers celebrates the dual nature of Vår as a band, and Rønnenfelt and Rahbek as artists. Somehow, the album’s industrial-goth-techno inspired tracks were cultivated over the course of only two weeks in the back of a Bushwick, Brooklyn record shop. Then again, it’s clear that Rønnenfelt and Rahbek work almost criminally well together, the yin to each other’s yang; While Rahbek is bold and masculine in recordings, the baby-faced Rønnenfelt displays a cool, subtle aggression that’s delicate as glass. Similarly, No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers presents hard, heavy subject matter approached in the gentlest manner possible.
Like a ghost, the record drifts between the walls of intense percussion of “Motionless Duties,” the spine-tingling death march of “Hair Like Feathers,” and the post-punk guitar accented techno of “Pictures of Today/Victorial.” The vibrating silence of “Boy” recalls shades of U.K. duo Raime, although it feels unfair comparing Vår to anyone or anything else. Album closer “Katla” emphatically shuts the book on No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers while wrapped tightly in droning synths.
Rønnenfelt and Rahbek, plus co-horts Kristian Emdal and Lukas Højland, have achieved something spectacular with No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers. Formerly, the band were known as War, before switching to the kinder, gentler Vår (which isn’t just “war” in Danish, as it appears, but actually means “spring.”) Clearly, the change has done them good. Throughout even its darkest, most macabre moments, there is a vulnerable romanticism associated with the music Vår make. The internet is littered with images of tender exchanges between Rønnenfelt and Rahbek, holding hands and even open-mouthed kissing. Is No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers a real love story? Or is it meant to keep us guessing? Either way, it’s working, as the fragile young punks continue to craft sounds that are essentially shatter-proof.
4.5 / 5 bars