Miike Snow first tantalized our musical senses with their hit “Animal” off of their 2009 self-titled debut album, which captured our animalistic souls. Now the Swedish/American trio are back with the same melodic tendencies we fell in love with for their sophomore effort, Happy To You.
“Animal” may have introduced us to the indie pop geniuses, but it was all of the tracks from that first album that really invoked our imagination thanks to their immaculate production skills that infuse soul into their glossy pop tracks that are laced with electronic flourishes.
It’s no surprise that members Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg are actually big time music producers for pop names like Madonna, Kylie Minoque, Kelis and Britney Spears (they moonlight under the moniker Bloodshy & Avant and actually won a Grammy for Spears’ “Toxic” track). But with the addition of American songwriter Andrew Wyatt, Miike Snow transcends the definition of what’s become pop crap to walk on their own as one of the most experimentally driven collectives in the pop scene.
For Happy To You, their signature wistful instrumentation hasn’t been lost. Instead it’s only heightened with the addition of new musical features like full orchestras, brass sections and even marching bands. The album kicks off with “Enter the Joker’s Liar,” a very playful tune with robotic-like vocals that later transform into Wyatt’s cooing melodies with skittering percussion and, of course, some fluttering synths.
The “Wave” has the same epic piano beginning as that of the first album’s “Black and Blue” or “In Search Of,” but has some marching band percussion to accompany the familiar keys. Its chorus is rather magical with Wyatt’s chirping echoes. It’s definitely reminiscent from their earlier work, but also features how they’ve mastered their signature balladry.
The first preview track from the album, “Devil’s Work,” isn’t as cheerful as the previous two, but its melodramatic over psychedelia coupled with moody synths and haunting vocals providing for a stirring tune. The most enjoyable tracks (at least for me, anyways) are the more upbeat ones, like “Bavarian #1 (Say You Will),” with its marching beats, flirtatious piano riffs and chirpy whistling. Another stand-out track is “Paddling Out.” It starts with heavy keys before quickly drifting into a disco-charged dance floor anthem reminiscent from the early ’90s club days.
The remainder of the 10-track album is sprinkled with various other vocally enticing and instrumentally compelling tracks that range from low-key moody synths to infectious dance grooves with catchy hooks and memorable choruses that can only be defined as a Miike Snow jam. They smoothly combine for a lighthearted affair that translates to pop, but on Miike Snow’s terms. Old fans will enjoy their ability to evolve their signature pop-based backbeats without having sounding entirely different from what we loved on their first album—while new fans will appreciate their ability to balance electronic music with an indie spin to create something totally out of the box. Happy To You is a welcomed effort that’s worthy of being one of the top albums of the year and in heavy rotation in your iTunes.
Oh, and if you’re going to Coachella, make sure to schedule in Miike Snow’s performance on Saturday of both weekends!
Words: Kristie Bertucci