Review: Varvara – Death Defying Tricks

Not to be confused with the Russian pop singer of the same name, Finnish garage-rock band Varvara recruited esteemed Swedish producer Pelle Gunnerfeldt (The Hives, Refused) for their third effort – ‘Death Defying Tricks’. Their derivative sound owes to certain seminal releases by influential indie acts of the 2000s, while on a basic level aspiring to the brutish rock’n’roll of the Rolling Stones. Though initially seeming one-dimensional, ‘Death Defying Tricks’ rewards repeated listens through a revealing of sharp attention to detail.

Mikko Kiri channels Julian Casablancas with a softly distorted vocal, unfailingly cool and often scarcely audible. Despite this, he delivers a number of wryly amusing lines which endearingly often fail to entirely bridge the language gap. Indeed, he often settles for a well-placed profanity, which is curiously satisfying – and another nod to Casablancas.

While The Strokes’ influence extends to the dominant guitars, crisply overdriven and raggedly interweaving, Varvara are not a band limited to or confined by their reference points. The middle 8 of ’Caught’ is that rare moment in a song – one that may induce an involuntary smile and shake of the head at its genius. Kiri’s croon shifts to delicate falsetto over a lone guitar, before the introduction of brass ushers in the final chorus. It’s a stunning ninety seconds, indicative of genuine talent.

Elsewhere, single ‘Human Being’’s stabbing bass gives way to a euphoric chorus, while ‘Arrows’ draws on early Radiohead, but with meatier riffs and more brass. The faint keyboard on ‘Since We Can’t Explain’ is a further surprise late in the album, but it never feels misplaced.

‘Death Defying Tricks’ is an intriguing piece of work. First impressions are indeed deceiving, and don’t for a second believe that this is landfill copycat indie. It has the unmistakeable air of a group yet to truly discover they own identity, but frankly, Varvara sound as if they are perfectly content with that.


’Death Defying Tricks’ by Varvara released on November 4th on Haminian Sounds.

Varvara links: Website|Facebook|Twitter|Bandcamp

Words by Peter Stewart (@pstewart0)


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