Quick, what does Miike Snow have in common with Britney Spears, Madonna, and Kylie Minogue?
Well, quite a lot, actually.
If your level of familiarity with Swedish band Miike Snow was on par with mine before this week, this might surprise you. As it turns out, two thirds of Miike Snow (producers Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg, otherwise known as Bloodshy & Avant) are the same gentlemen who co-wrote and/or produced a good amount of material by the ladies mentioned above, including Spears’ megahit “Toxic”.
Therein lies the importance of separate branding, young reader.
If you’re looking for a brand this week that makes aurally pleasing sequences of bleeps, bloops, keys, horns, sighs, “oohs” “wahhhs” and “aahs”, then look no further than Miike Snow’s latest product on the market, Happy to You. It’s the aggressively haunting sophomore effort from the same ensemble that put together 2010’s terrific eponymous debut, and although it came out the last week of march, Happy sounds like it wouldn’t be sad if winter decided to last another few months.
That’s not to say it’s a sad album though; although it has its somber moments, it’s largely a lighthearted effort.
Okay, I just made that up. I don’t really know what this album is about. Most of the lyrics are… cryptic. I’m not even going to take a stab at it. There’s a lot of symbolism… probably… and some spiritual imagery… references to pharaohs and stuff… and some nice juxtaposition of… things… Yeah, I’m not even going to try. I would give them the benefit of a doubt and assume that the lyrical complexity matches the production expertise, but I kind of think Karlsson, Winnberg, and lead singer Andrew Wyatt just enjoy keeping their listeners guessing.
After watching the two music videos that accompany this album so far, I really don’t think I’m wrong.
And here’s the explanation.
After watching the videos, I have to agree that they’re high on vivid imagery and low on clarity, which seems to be the intent. I think the same can be said for the album as a whole too. Karlsson and Winnberg are experts at Making Things Sound Good, so don’t be surprised when these songs stick with you well after you turn everything off. The music is, again, haunting. The French horns in “Devil’s Work” rattle the sternum with their severity; Donnie Darko’s rabbit friend Frank seems to make an appearance in “Black Tin Box”; “Bavarian #1 (Say You Will)” invades your ear with the battle driven rat-a-tat of a snare, a bass line that mimics every movement of a plucky key ensemble, and Wyatt’s soft but penetrating vocals. All that said, I really don’t know if there’s much of an overarching theme tying the content together. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and of course I could just be wrong, but it’s certainly worth mentioning.
I’m hesitant to say much more about this album as it still seems like a bit of a work in progress, especially considering Winnberg’s hinting at the continuation of the Alien Children Use Big-Nosed Stepford Men in Shiny Pants to Ruin the World video series. Can’t wait.
I’ve found that I enjoy Happy to You more with each listen, which is no doubt a testament to its earworm quality. And I seriously can’t wait for the next videos in the series — first, because the imagery is phenomenal, and second, because WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?!?
I guess we’ll find out soon. Or not.
(2) “The Wave”
(3) “Devil’s Work”
(6) “Bavarian #1 (Say You Will)”
(10) “Paddling Out”