Electronic dance trio VRWRK began life in Belgium, then operating under the name VUURWERK (firework), where from 2015 to 2017 they released a smattering of EPs and singles with a recurring cast of guest singers. Then, after a hitting a creative wall in their native BEL, The VRWRKs moved to LDN, mainly the WNKY area of HCKNY, and evolved into VRWRK, gaining a permanent lead vocalist in the role of creative artist Salem Khazali.
Almost without exception, On the Outside is going for the 5am vivid-orange-sunrise tropics end of the spectrum. There’s nothing here which falls below vague hungover moping, and doesn’t yet especially lose its inhibitions to any delirious or giddy level. I could see any of these songs soundtracking a Made in Chelsea mid-series beach party in Syria or the Former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, or wherever it is they are at the moment.
Khazali’s voice is no doubt great, but a lot of this stuff is fairly toothless, by-the-numbers electro house.
Dripping with light and woozy house instrumentation, stuff like ‘I’m Free‘ and ‘You Feel Me (Utterly Amazing)‘ is some drippy ass music, although the latter’s vocal production makes Khazali sound like Rick Astley, which was kind of amusing. I mean, I’m not going to dance around like a fucking chimp or a mongoose to this music, if that’s your thing then kl.
I’ll be darned if the end of ‘Your Touch‘ isn’t a say-it-with-your-chest homage to Hot Chip‘s 2006 stunner ‘No Fit State‘; the rest of the song wouldn’t have felt out of place on a project like Disclosure‘s early work with Sam Smith. The rowdiest the album gets is on uptempo Caribbean slapper ‘Wait it Out‘.
The busy, metropolitan funked-out palettes of ‘Your Touch‘ and ‘Faith‘ just fall a bit short compared with the more abrasive and darker work the group were making under the VUURWERK banner. But it’s a new day for the group, and the move to East London has evidently inspired more optimism and sunshine to weave through the music they want to make. It’s not really on to berate people too hard for being happy and optimistic.
On the Outside is out now under the band’s own Run Tell Secrecy collective.