Album Reviews

Miike Snow – Miike Snow

(Columbia) UK release date: 26 October 2009

Miike Snow - Miike Snow It’s a strange name, Miike Snow. And it’s not even one person – this trio are a New York-Stockholm hybrid, the ‘surname’ an engineer in LA, the first name a homage to Japanese film director Takashi Miike. They can already lay claim to one of the finest pop songs of the last ten years, having written Britney Spears’ Toxic.

Handily enough, the story of their name just about sums up their music. Well engineered for sure, it nonetheless contains some strange twists, turns and syncopations as it unfolds, not to mention some decidedly dark lyrics.

What works handsomely in their favour is the fact Miike Snow are one of those outfits whose music refuses to go away. They’ve mastered the art of the album as a ‘grower’. Give the record one listen only and it might pass you by, leaving you fleetingly impressed by its unusual harmonies, ironed out into pop structures. Go back to it once more and the process of reeling the listener in begins, as the barbed lyrics reveal themselves and the catchy tunes and rolling drums start to pop their heads above the parapet.

Nowhere does this happen more obviously than the lead track Animal, which sounds like a lost Police song given a new, vividly coloured change of clothes. It’s uniquely and strangely joyous, a mood that continues through the album, with choice lyrical vignettes and hooks that seem awkward at first listen, gloriously different the next.

“Don’t forget to cry at your own burial!” they entreat in Burial, which after a few listens will reveal itself as a song about a serial killer. Black & Blue does likewise, a more soulful approach revealing a possible debt to Outkast, while hinting even a bit of gospel may have been used.

Throughout the album danceable rhythms, melodic hooks you could hang a coat on, and vocals that would grace many an accomplished boy band vie for top billing. The carefree Song For No One breezes on by with a jaunty rhythm, complementing the lovelorn Silvia rather well, while even the later tracks – A Horse Is Not A Home, Plastic Jungle and In Search Of, impress greatly with their polished yet human approach.

Empire Of The Sun might have thought they had the crown of the year’s breeziest electro pop album sewn up, but they reckoned without this trio. For Miike Snow make weirdly wonderful music, not without its strange lyrical dark side, but with an overall vibe that raises you to your feet and makes you gaze at the blue sky. In a phrase, life-enriching.

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More on Miike Snow
Interview: Miike Snow
Miike Snow – iii
Miike Snow + Niki & The Dove @ Brixton Academy, London
Miike Snow – Happy For You
Miike Snow + I Blame Coco @ Tabernacle, London