We’re entering our fourth and final day broadcasting from the KEX Hostel here in Reykjavik during Iceland Airwaves. While we don’t want it to end, it’s hard to think of a band more appropriate to begin our sendoff than with some old friends – Sin Fang (aka Sindri Már Sigfússon), Sóley and Örvar Smárason. If those names sound familiar, it’s because all of these acts have performed on our KEX broadcast in various fashions multiple times over the years (Smárason has appeared multiple times both with FM Belfast and múm). Their musical resumes alone are enough to pique interest, but the results of the trio’s arresting debut collaboration Team Dreams will keep you hooked in.
Across the album, the group navigates between propulsive indie-pop bangers to stripped-down piano ballads. Given their eclectic backgrounds, it’s no surprise that they’d create music that’s just as excellent as it is undefinable. Their propensity for jumping between genres is engaging, but it’s their collective songwriting abilities that are really the star of the show. Team Dreams truly does feel like a team effort, leaning into each players’ strengths to craft an album that can go from Beach House to Purity Ring on a dime.
Supergroups have the unenviable position of having to live up to exceedingly high expectations. Team Dreams not only held their own against their own legacies, but they also skirted any expectations by crafting a sound that felt uniquely new to the project. (We're just going to call them Team Dreams for now, although the group acknowledged that Team Dreams is just the name of the album – joking that they felt too old to come up with a new band name at this point in their careers.) Opening with "Random Haiku Generator," the group announced their presence with a fluttering of synthesizers and drum loops. Smárason took the lead vocals at first while his collaborators supported with sweeping harmonies before switching over midway through for Sóley to tenderly sing just above a whisper in a stirring breakdown.
For as lush and immersive their music is, the band was not without their traditional Icelandic humor. They'd rib each other between songs, Sigfússon proclaiming that Sóley wrote the song "Wasted" about her and Smárason getting too drunk on tour. After she finished setting up her mic, she jumped in, saying "I can talk for myself now. That is not true." That they can go so quickly from playful banter to an evocative ballad like "Wasted" is a marvel in its own. Tasteful experimentation is a major key to their success as well, demonstrating how they sampled the sounds of Sóley hitting tennis balls on the aptly named "Tennis." It's the type of idea you can imagine getting talked about excitedly but left on the cutting room floor. Team Dreams' willingness to see through their spontaneous ideas is impressive alone. It doesn't hurt that the results are almost always gorgeous.
The Dublin act makes their second appearance on KEXP this year with another invigorating performance at KEX Hostel in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Our first non-Icelandic act of the festival at KEX hostel gives us a world tour or sounds and heavy doses of psychedlia.