Niki And The Dove – The Fox EP (Sub Pop Records)
June 30, 2011 by Tshepo Mokoena
There are certain things the Swedes are known for nailing: English as a second language, that thing where they look effortlessly hot all the time, and making pop music (again, in English) that reverberates with such honesty. New duo Niki And The Dove are no different, and are out to shake us to our cores with a combination of saccharine sweet vocals, grinding bass and drum machines as we haven’t heard them for decades.
Vocalist Malin Dahlström and jack-of-all-musical-trades Gustaf Karlöf are swiftly becoming masters of a sort of understated elation. Their attention to the detail of dynamic swells makes B-side ‘Gentle Roar’ feel like a warm wash of ambience, even amidst the slightly menacing whispered vocal lines and heavy bass samples.
As the song clambers to its climax it’s not unlike a shriek of joy muffled into a pillowcase or someone launching a celebratory backflip that no-one notices. Never has a song with an opening verse about trains in the tube sounded so haunting, the subtlety of the production carrying it into almost sinister territory.
Lead single ‘The Fox’ jolts and jars with a cello sample and the tinkles of shattering glass. It’s addictive, danceable and mischievously dark. The round tones of Dahlström’s voice perch perfectly over layers of synths, whether she’s cooing about the aforementioned fox, or howling until her voice breaks. It’s the live drum machine performance of ‘Somebody’ that really clinches this three-song EP.
Even without the gloss of the studio treatment, Karlöf’s pounding drum machine transports us right into the fist-pumping jubilance of top 1980s pop. The lyrics may be set more to the sad tune of worry and insecurity, but you’re likely to find yourself singing them at the top of your lungs, head throw back in true 80s opulence.
Niki And The Dove have an excellent track record so far if this and their previous EPs are anything to go by. We’ve got our ears to the ground for the album release later this year.