x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Miike Snow's Happy To You shows a new sense of vision and determination

The Swedish indie-electro outfit shows off their knack for offbeat pop.

Miike Snow
Happy To You
Columbia Records
***

Stockholm indie-electro outfit Miike Snow achieved only modest success with their 2009 debut, but then the trio themselves claimed they hadn't really been taking things seriously anyway, and were even surprised when the release lead to demands for a tour.

Although many embraced the self-titled album, it was still considered an inauspicious start for the band, particularly because two of their members had been responsible for creating one of the finest pop songs of the last decade, Britney Spears' wildly schizophrenic Toxic.

Like their last release, Happy To You shows off the band's knack for offbeat pop and remains several shades more restrained than anything Spears would ever add her name to. Singles Devil's Work and Paddling Out bounce around euphoric early-1990s piano refrains, but the layers of drowsy vocals means neither are likely to become dance floor fillers.

The album's finest moments are also its catchiest. The Wave is filled with lush falsettos and crashing drums, while Pretender races along with the kind of magnetic vocal that Cee Lo Green might deliver.

Less successful is the densely distorted Archipelago and the bleak Black Tin Box, which features a downbeat (and frankly, rather wasted) appearance from fellow Swede Lykke Li.

Miike Snow members Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg's background as producers shines through on the album's painstakingly assembled creations. While the group's staunch refusal to wholeheartedly embrace their pop side can be frustrating, at least it shows a sense of vision and determination that never existed before.