I’m running through the plains, streaked in tribal warpaint that was once the lifeblood of a Tibetan antelope. My hair is matted; I’ve been on a vision quest for a fortnight. The moon, a great alabaster eye, moves across the black above, imperceptible to the unaided sense. I feel its lumbering flight with every breath. My mind, unshackled. I think … I think I’m not wearing any clothes.
In other words, I’m sitting at our kitchen table and listening to Niki & The Dove and eating lasagna. But the Swedish electropop group’s Instinct prods the imagination to run wild and write overwrought prose.
Let’s settle on “tribal” as a keyword. The best/most irrational way to understand Niki & The Dove’s sound is to imagine M83, but with Robyn as the lead singer, and they’re dropping acid at a drum circle with MGMT. Also, everyone is dressed like Ke$ha. Sparse aboriginal-sounding drums, unique percussion, and eerie, minimalist synths pepper the album, which is hoisted aloft by the distinctly Swedish wailing of Malin Dahlström. Instinct presents itself as a slightly more exotic cousin to M83’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, full of ’80s gusto and dreamy passion.
From the opening salvo of “Tomorrow” to the New Wave pop of “The Drummer,” the album sticks to the program, serving up triumphant danceable tune after tune with a generous serving of weird. They don’t come stranger than “The Gentle Roar,” where a string of whisper-chants conjure up a shamanistic ritual to raise the dead. Also, it sounds the ladies of ABBA with strep throat covering the opening to “Dance Magic Dance” from Labyrinth. But in a good way.
Niki & The Dove thinks outside the box (or rather, thinks back inside the box) for the R&B flavored “Somebody,” which sounds like Prince playing a concert in a fjord. Another standout, “DJ Ease My Mind” is a melancholy crowd-pleaser suited for the dancefloor, but it never feels cheap.
For fans of Lykke Li and smoking peyote, Instinct is where you want to be. Grab your bow and arrow and jump on your pegasus. It’s time to hunt centaurs to the tune of Swedish pop.
(2) “The Drummer”
(4) “The Gentle Roar”
(9) “DJ Ease My Mind”