Doubt the subliminal influence of Swedish-American indie-electro supergroup Miike Snow? Just listen to Coldplay’s A Head Full Of Dreams, the album enabled by Scandi producers StarGate – especially that hooky song Adventure Of A Lifetime. Yup. Sure, Miike Snow may not be the most innovative or even most distinctive band – being classifiable somewhere between any knock-off DFA indie group and the electro-pop Passion Pit. But their output is consistently pristine. That said, iii is Miike Snow’s boldest album.
The Miike Snow line-up fell together when the Swedish production duo Bloodshy & Avant (Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg) teamed with New York singer/songwriter Andrew Wyatt in Stockholm. B&A had worked with Britney Spears (they scored the “Best Dance Recording” Grammy for 2003’s Toxic) and, impressively, Madonna. Wyatt was drifting (he’d later co-write Bruno Mars’ hit Grenade). In 2009 Miike Snow issued their eponymous debut, uncaging the memorable Animal. iii arrives four years after the consolidating Happy To You, completing a trilogy.
In the intervening years, Wyatt – who contributed to Mark Ronson’s Record Collection – reunited with his uber-producer pal for Uptown Special. Karlsson launched the dance combo Galantis, whose singles Runaway (U & I) and Peanut Butter Jelly have, embarrassingly, been bigger than Miike Snow’s. And Winnberg did stuff with his band Amason – whoever they are. Regardless, Miike Snow have benefitted. iii is ambitious. Wyatt has his own uptown R&B: a fusion of ’70s yacht rock, epic ’90s R&B, and French house.
iii’s reverberating opener My Trigger, on which Wyatt channels Pharrell Williams’ lucky falsetto, typifies this advanced hybrid. Imagine ELO made over by Discovery-era Daft Punk with Kanye West throwing in his beloved chipmunk vocal effects… The album’s first single, Heart Is Full, goes further with the vintage Yeezisms, as Miike Snow’s producers twist a robustly soulful sample (actually, Marlena Shaw’s cover of Etta James’ Waiting For Charlie To Come Home).
Wyatt’s quirkiest lyric is on the again catchy, and delicately harmonised, anthem Genghis Khan – a new pop take on possessiveness (“I get a little bit Genghis Khan,” goes the chorus, the singer referencing the Mongol conquerer). Not since Bastille’s Pompeii has an electro-pop song revealed such implausible historic inspo.
iii has experimental numbers – one the beguiling I Feel The Weight, which, with Wyatt’s manipulated (and auto-tuned) vocals, sounds like an ’80s power ballad drowning in purple drank. Less convincing is Over And Over. Wrestling with incongruous industrial rock, Miike Snow could be mistaken for a corporate ‘alt’ band biting Nine Inch Nails. Awfully.
Despite their six degree connections, Miike Snow have avoided excess guest spots, with just Charli XCX appearing here on For U (Lykke Li cameoed on Happy…) – oddly, another edgy cut. It’s trapclash worthy of The Life Of Pablo. Ironically, iii’s coup is a cred ‘bonus’ remix of Heart Is Full by Run The Jewels.
iii won’t revolutionise music, but it’s cooler than Coldplay’s latest. These are songs that should be allowed to charm their way onto supermarket radio stations.
‘iii’ is out March 4th, grab a pre-order here.