Daughters of Reykjavík – Soft Spot
Icelandic rap collective Daughters of Reykjavík’s long-in-the-works debut is a thoughtful, multi-faceted feminist statement
Anybody who’s made the November trek up to Iceland Airwaves over the past four or five years will know that this record from Reykjavíkurdætur is long overdue.
The nine-piece rap ensemble have been the talk of the last few editions of the festival, with their irrepressibly energetic live show fuelled by feminist fury and routinely subverting hip-hop’s male gaze (think shirtless, Magic Mike-esque male waiters handing out shots to the crowd and psychedelic light shows littered with cocks). Now rebranded in overseas-friendly fashion as Daughters of Reykjavík, they’re making a serious play for a broader audience with a record that finds room both to cement their identity and to develop it, too.
The basics of the musical blueprint that they’ve laid out on stage is preserved here; trap beats provide the backbone, the lyrics flit between English and Icelandic, and the flow between members makes for intricate interplay. Beyond that, though, there’s a balance struck between the full-throttle ferocity they brought to their late-night turns at Airwaves – see the menacing A Song to Kill Boys To, brooding Fool's Gold or the murky atmospherics of Thirsty Hoes for cases in point – and a hitherto-unseen softer side. Opener Late Bloomers is a disarming start, all downtempo synths and hushed delivery, whilst there’s dusky melancholy to Spotlight, on which they grapple with the implications for their psyche that performance brings.
DTR goes even further – it’s a borderline ballad that unabashedly takes its cues from the Spice Girls. Still, the sweet tale of sisterhood it spins is proof positive that the real through line on Soft Spot is its feminist politics, presented here in myriad ways but never lacking emotional intelligence or conviction. There’s so much more to Daughters of Reykjavík than the raucousness they’ve developed a reputation for; you might not hear a more thoughtful rap record all year.
Listen to: Late Bloomers, Lófatak, Thirsty Hoes