Miike Snow does not come across as the archetypical indie pop band. They do not dress up in vests and blazers, nor did they break into the music scene from outside like Foster the People, Vampire Weekend or Noah & the Whale. Miike Snow consists of Swedish music producers Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg (the masterminds behind Britney Spears’ Grammy-winning song “Toxic”) as well as New York-based musician Andrew Wyatt.
After the sudden success of their eponymous debut album, the pressure for their second album, “Happy to You,” is high. Based in Sweden, hometown to music legends such as ABBA and more recently Swedish House Mafia, Miike Snow has a lot to live up to.
The first track of the album, “Enter the Joker’s Lair,” fails to grasp the listener’s attention; it’s not in the same league as “Animal,” the first track to their debut album that went on to become their biggest hit. Fortunately, “The Wave” is one of the highlights of the album. It is Miike Snow, as their fans know them best. Marching band beats with piano and electric guitars give the song a pulsating dance rhythm encompassed with Wyatt crooning “You can hear them / You can hear them banging on the … / But my love won’t be saved.” The next song, “Devil’s Work,” carries on the up-beat tempo and the includession of a brass section, an interesting twist that blends in smoothly with an indie electro-pop feel.
“Vase” and “Bavarian #1 (Say You Will)” are the only tracks towards the later half of the album that are worth listening to twice. Where “Vase” uses handclaps and an eclectic mix of electric guitars as the foundation, “Bavarian #1” brings back the marching band and electric guitars, this time accompanied by whistling.
Lyrically, both of these songs carry on about love and forgiveness, some of the running themes of the album captured by lyrics like, “There were islands where we spent the days” and “Would you come over / Forgive my hard ways.” The remaining songs, “Pretender,” “Archipelago” and “Black Tin Box” seem to blend in and out with each other because they are repetitive and mundane across the board.
The last song, “Paddling Out,” tries one last attempt to raise the bar and succeeds in creating an energizing foot tapping number but fails to save the album.
So does Miike Snow prove to be a part of the upper echelons of Swedish music? Certainly not with “Happy to You.”
Rating: 3 out of 5