Reviewed by Nur Lajunen-Tal

Vikae: Love Games EP

Reviewed by Nur Lajunen-Tal

Vikae: Love Games EP

Indie pop artist Veronika Bell aka Vikae has never shied away from the brutally honest in her lyrics, and ‘Love Games’, her first non-single release since 2020’s ‘Finelines EP,’ is no exception. 

Expanding on Vikae’s gritty, sharp-edged synth-pop sound, ‘Love Games’ doesn’t compromise on any front, coupling intensely personal lyrics with infectious vocal hooks and a high level of danceability.

Frothy, anthemic opener Lonely Doll is, musically, the most straightforward synth-pop track Vikae has delivered so far. Lyrically, however, Vikae tells a moving story of a young woman who isn’t receiving love or connection from the people around her. “How can you say you love her/ when you leave her lonely, like a lonely doll,” she screams in the hugely infectious chorus.

The EP’s title track and lead single Love Games is darker musically, but still danceable and packing a punch with the highly memorable and arresting pop chorus. “It’s just another mistake, it’s just another heartache/ playing love games with you,” Vikae enunciates against a bed of harmonies. The verse and bridge lyrics poetically depict being cheated on in a relationship. “The wandering raven in violet skies/ Broken her wings, she cannot fly,” Vikae croons delicately and expressively in the bridge.

Who would stay with me? takes a turn for the dark and twisty, lyrically contemplating if a partner would care more about her if she passed. “If I just died, lover/ Maybe then you’d miss me,” Vikae sings against a spooky musical landscape dominated by a heavy, ominous synth bass. The effect is unsettling and potent, a dramatic, painfully honest delve into the highly personal but universal world of insecurities.

While the rest of the project is produced by regular collaborator Abigail Knudson, aka Missy, Destination Nowhere is produced by Christian Tjandrawinata. Sonically, there is a significant difference between this song and those produced by Knudson. Destination Nowhere is a piano ballad, at times melodically reminiscent of Taylor Swift and also drawing comparisons to Olivia Rodrigo. Lyrically, Vikae movingly tells the story of a heartbreak. “Nightmare, false reality/ soaked in distant memories/ touch that makes me wake dripping sweat,” she sings emotively in the chorus.

Final Breakdown brings her mixtape to an explosive end. Lyrically about deciding to leave the city, the production is stamped with Knudson’s gritty, sharp-edged signature sound. Soaked with hypnotic vocoder-esque harmonies repeatedly singing “last goodbye, middle of the night,” an almost post-apocolyptic feel is created. “No peace in a city that has a piece of me,” Vikae plays on words.

Revealing your inner workings to the world is something that involves a lot of strength. ‘Love Games’ displays Vikae’s growth and progression as an artist, proving she has not forsaken the brutal honesty she started her career with. Vikae makes it clear that she has a lot to say, and she’s not afraid to say it.