Hugar - Varða - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Hugar - Varða

by Florian Meissner Rating:4 Release Date:2019-08-23
Hugar – Varða
Hugar –Varða

Hugar are from Iceland, both members are multiinstrumentalists and their outputs are consistently well received amongst critics. And with their second album entitled Varða, which is their major label debut, Hugar are set for a great career within Sony Music Masterworks – or are they?
The official blurb describes the 14 tracks as “an epic expedition awash in stark piano chords, gusts of lyrical brass, high-powered strings, off-kilter guitar, and brushstrokes of electronic swells.” And epic it is. However, even after listening to the album several times, the “epic” does not turn into “exciting” or “outstanding.” Instead, this album just tinkles along in the background. The tracks are all victim to the ‘ambient effect’, as I like to call it.

But first things first. Both Bergur Þórisson and Pétur Jónsson are incredible musicians. “Waves”, their 2017 single with singer Arnór Dan, is impressive proof of their musical prowess. However, with Varða, Hugar have somehow drifted into the realms of non-descript background music. Their songs, once a hauntingly beautiful portrayal of Icelandic calmness, have become so calm, so relaxed that the album is nothing more but background music. Nothing sticks out, no song really captivates its listener – it sounds harsh, and it’s not meant to be, but the album is plain boring.

It pains me to say this, especially since their self-titled debut was incredibly fun to listen to, and took you on a journey through artistic Icelandic soundscapes never seen or heard of before. But this magic, these captivating qualities the first album so nonchalantly managed to express, are lost in non-descriptive, repetitive patterns and artistic obscurity.

Listening to the album, you can hear that the duo have put a lot of thought into every single sound, every single note and every single bit of instrumentation. It’s all very deliberate, very high-quality and incredibly well-made. But in planning the songs as meticulous as they have done, the two have lost themselves and, ultimately, the listener.

Hugar created a string of videos, each video accompanying another song of their album. They all precede one another and tell the overall story of the video. The first song, “Saga”, has the most compelling video yet, and adds the much-needed excitement to the songs. You can watch it below. The story continues in the video for “Ró”.

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet