Vio are somewhat of a surprise. Despite their name sounding like they should produce death metal and dodgy album covers, they are a fresh, new semi-acoustic band of from Mosfellsbær near Reykjavík.
Vio won the 2014 Músíktilraunir—an Icelandic battle-of-the-bands type contest—with singer Magnús Thorlacius also receiving a solo award for his vocal performance. Previous winners have included a little band called Of Monsters and Men. All in all, Vio didn’t do so badly bad for a band formed only three weeks before the contest.
Their style is a back-to-basics affair of guitar, keyboard and drums, which they use to produce alternative rock, presumably whilst at the same time fighting the urge not to become middle of the road. There is also more than a hint of the 90s Manchester indie scene here, even a smudge of shoe gazing is to be found if you listen hard enough. More Manchester than Mosfellsbær, if you will.
There is also a reminder of now defunct UK band Razorlight, before they lost the plot entirely.
This is especially the case on jangly ‘Wherever You May Be,’ with its Johnny Borrel-like vocal delivery and background harmonies, and the cheeky ‘Perfect Boys.’
A dash of sex is added to ‘Think of Me’—essentially the tale of a date, and subsequent fornication. A sentiment that is never far from the members of the bands’ mind, surely. “You feel me over, your nails brush my chest, I bite your neck,” go the lyrics, bringing to mind a bad teenage vampire movie. Seriously though, the lyrics—all in English, save for one track—are sensitive and thoughtful throughout, often tied to love and love lost.
This is a debut the boys should be proud of. It’s a solid foundation on which to build. A few more years, a few more broken relationships and their next album should be something to behold.
Originally published on Iceland Review online.