Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Miike Snow's album 'Happy To You'

This open minded trio of Swedes released their second album 'Happy To You', following up from their eponymous first album. With a strong set of catchy riffs that would make MGMT jealous, drums to startle an army and a genre that can be shortly defined as electronic indie pop, the album includes a scattering of strong re-mixes alongside their own masterpieces in their full glory.

So there's not the usual instrumentation ('Enter the Joker's Lair' including a Marimba), lyrics ('Paddling Out') and mad rushing ('Archipelago') you may hear in an extrovert Indie-electronica group such as Foals, Justice, Hot Chip or MGMT but it carries it's own niche sound very well. With the inclusion of Swedish military drums in 'Bavarian' and 'The Wave' to the Miike-Snow-typically white washed vocals in 'The Wave' to the synths in 'Vase'. The group sustain their unique sound which is so distinctive from their previous hits such as 'Silvia', 'Black and Blue' and 'Animal'.

Tracks to WATCH OUT! (in a good way) for are include 'Devil's Work'-a favourite of mine (and Tiesto's) with it's big brass, singable vocals and break down on the second half of the chorus with stabbing strings and full of emotion, the song is perfect for pulling apart which is precisely what DJ Alex Metric has done. It'll also most probably be the next release off the album... 'Bavarian' includes a delicate and repetitive minimalist piece that warms the heart. With it's strong structure, and genteel approach to layering against the harshness of the snares in the military drums, the track really clings onto something unique. Not to mention the vocals and harmonies which include surprising directions that inevitably round up into the repetitive riffs that were introduced at the very start. Genius.

Unfortunately the album has low production on an overall scale. Play it after any dance track you have on your ipod and you'll hear the failure in the size of the sound that's produced overall. This is probably a result of less cash been thrown at the band as say, DJ Fresh or Madonna but at the end of the day, the rest of the album points out that the album IS produced to a very high level of production. Tracks 'Enter the Joker's Lair', 'Devil's Work' and 'Archipelago' just point to the range of the production techniques from creating soundscapes in 'Enter..." to the typical band sound with rock drums, driving keys, strings, brass and functional bass that is required in 'Devil's Work'.

The first single 'Paddling Out' is a real keyboard basher with condensed songwriting and excellent builds in the bridge up to the chorus which provides a brilliant release. The single was the reason I delved further into the album and the lads should be proud of it, exploit it for re-mixes (which they have) and really channel it as a dance anthem for the summer. Unfortunately there's a distraction bleep/glitch that sounds somewhere between an Apple Mac uploading something and a metronome which really grates on me. However, remixes on the album are also noteworthy- Wolfgang Gartner's remix is a bass and dancefloor friendly version that underpins the entire track with a simplified but big drum sample and a contrasting chorus including a heavy, trance - chunky synth part which holds a strong line throughout the rest of the track after it's initial introduction. The Jacques Le Cont remix includes a tad more creativity, thought and brilliant build ups, releases and alternative structure to the instrumentation whilst it also pulls apart and stretches out the track. Much more Justice-like and adds a layer of grandeur.

I hope that the extent of the band's creativity and lack of fear to try anything new will help this album rocket. With Radio 1 plugging them on Annie Mac's show and Tiesto including them in his podcast, I think they'll be able to capture a pretty large audience.

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