Listening to iii, their first album in four years, it proves easy to see why the members of Miike Snow have been in such popular demand as writers and producers. Yet when the trio get together to make their own pop music, there is a joyous and carefree sense of adventure to their compositions, the rulebook tossed aside as they prey on their own instinctive ideas.
More often than not it’s a tactic that works, producing left of centre pop music that works equally well on a discerning dancefloor as it does in a cosy living room. iii may have been a few years in the making, but it is a surprisingly coherent set of independent songs, most of which could easily be removed to stand on their own as singles.
Top of the list is Genghis Khan, a bittersweet song with a sting in the tail. Its lyrics could be viewed as too possessive – “I get a little bit Genghis Khan, don’t want you to get it on with anybody else but me” – but they are delivered in sweetly-sung tones and sound strangely affectionate. My Trigger is almost as good, the rolling beats leading to the observation “I saw you licking a dollar bill”, a typical off the wall lyric to kick off the album.
There is more obvious crossing over between genres and forms on iii than on the group’s previous two albums. Charli XCX is a really good choice of guest vocalist to go with the juddering rhythms of For U, reassuring the edgy verse that “I’ll be there for you”. Then there is The Heart Of Me, a song that struts out confidently from the shadows before revealing a softer underbelly with its confession that “I can’t stop this hurtful shit from happening”. Relative fame – and the trappings of it – appears to be having a few personal consequences.
That idea is further borne out by listening to a brief Spotify commentary on the making of the album, where iii’s diverse sources of inspiration are revealed. It turns out the closing Longshot (7 Nights) is directed at an ex, apparently “getting back at somebody who dumped you”. Its place at the end of the album would seem significant, Andrew Wyatt keen to have the last word.
Musically the inspiration is rich and varied. Heart Is Full, an excellent song, brings together its source, a sample of Marlena Shaw’s Waiting For Charlie To Come Home, with broad hip hop beats that make even more sense in the bonus track, a version killed by Run The Jewels. Enhancing the hip hop connections, My Trigger derives from a J Dilla original, screwed up brilliantly.
Some of these songs were written in 15 minutes, no more – and the instinctive creative process suits the music. Over And Over provides a futuristic combination of grungy guitar and a more soulful chorus, while Lonely Life returns us to the undercurrent of break-ups, the woozy harmonies and slightly sorrowful tone implying the band have been away from home a lot.
It remains a mystery that Miike Snow are not better known, for their pop music is strangely addictive, joyous but with a darker centre. Their hooks and oblique harmonies are often a winning combination. Add to that the visuals you can enjoy if you visit the band’s Tumblr site, and you have a web of creativity illustrating how their songs can inspire others.
If you’ve yet to indulge in this band’s output, you really ought to, bearing in mind this is now the third album in a row where their strange but endearing music hits the spot.