VAR- ‘The Never-Ending Year’

VAR are going to get some Sigur Ros comparisons. They’ll resist of course- at this point every Icelandic band is probably duty-bound to declare just how different they are than their homeland’s most famous rock export- but the quartet share plenty of similarities beyond a postcode. They also employ icy cool ambience, volcanic crescendos, lush strings, plaintive piano, and sweet falsetto vocals. And because of all that, ‘The Never-Ending Year’ is actually a perfectly lovely record. Very prim, very proper. But all too often it’s predictable too, and sounds like a benign impression of post-rock’s most peerless pioneers. Even when VAR move fast and play hard (‘Run’ lives up to its name and races along) they sound vanilla white and squeaky clean. Flat production hampers the band’s efforts too, shrinking their dynamic range and making it difficult to discern what should be real highlights like the skipping strings at the end of ‘Where to Find You’ and the potentially-epic conclusion of ‘Moments’. A solid effort that should really soar.

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