Another stormer from the Moscow trio. Nipping at the heels of last year’s similarly short Benighted United, the four-song Locked Forever transforms Vagina Vangi’s lurching slow burn into an roiling hell: aggressive and sexy synth jams that owe a bit to witch house but never feel beholden to it. The portrait of a band, developing.
And maybe the most noticeable development — beyond those sounds, that production, so smooth and bright and reborn — is a fresh fixation on pop structure. Beneath the seething aggression is a well-charted map of verses, choruses, stops and starts, this dynamic back and forth that feels so natural under Vagina Vangi’s care. From the sick, bent-bass hook on “Black Coils” (anchored by Yana Blinder’s startlingly sweet vocals) to the filter-house shuffle and deep breaks of “Goatghosts,” Locked Forever lives by a code of movement and memorability. No matter the part, how nasty it is, how confrontational, there’s always something to hum — and that something is usually well on its way to somewhere else. Don’t get too comfortable with the Todd Baechle-esque vocal melody of title track “Locked Forever,”,the instant pop-tangibility of bridge to dance-along chorus; as quickly as it locks you in, “Of Chaos and Hell” drops you hard, this sexy and slow-swung closer, Blinder’s and Ilya Arhipov’s vocals woven together like wool. Benighted United may have hinted at Vagina Vangi’s potential, but Locked Forever makes the promise outright. What a difference a few months can make.
Download the 4 song EP for a “Name Your Price” Donation via the Bandcamp player below, or get the 7 song expanded version via Russian webzine, Look At Me which features remixes by Unison, (our own) Nattymari and Ggle Highs.- Rue Sauvage