Miike Snow fans have been patiently twiddling their thumbs for nearly four years now, but hey, good things come to those who wait. iii is – you guessed it – the band’s third studio effort, but don’t let the somewhat lacklustre album title fool you; this is the Swedish trio’s most imaginative creation yet.
Miike Snow came together in 2007, bringing together New York-based singer Andrew Wyatt with Swedish production duo Bloodyshy & Avant (Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg). Karlsson and Winnberg are best known for producing Britney’s smash-hit Toxic (best song of her career, surely), but they worked with an assortment of popstars throughout the 2000s (Madonna, Bruno Mars, Kylie Minogue, Ms Dynamite) before joining forces with Wyatt in 2007. The rest is history: they released their equally inventively-named debut album Miike Snow in 2009, and have been making waves with their special brand of pop-electronica ever since.
You don’t work with that many of pop’s biggest names by mistake – undeniably, Karlsson and Winnberg know how to make a hit. Before now, Miike Snow have danced away from crafting fully-fledged pop tracks of their own, opting to make music with more electronic sensibilities. But iii’s opening track My Trigger marks a shift in tone: it’s louder, bolder, and more unashamedly upbeat than anything we’ve heard from them before. It’s playful as a track – there’s some lively piano, jittering drumbeats, vocal distortions left right and centre – and it’s infectious as hell. Sure, both this song and the record at large are a lot bolshier than some of the best-loved tracks from their back catalogue (this feels a million miles away from quiet genius of electro-ballad Silvia, for example) but, still, My Trigger is fantastically upbeat, tongue-in-cheek, and you can have a bit of a bop to it. Give it a listen and try not to feel uplifted; I dare you.
My Trigger slips into The Heart Of Me, a high-spirited song about love and heartbreak that simultaneously celebrates what it is to feel alive. It’s got groove, high-pitched vocal distortions and bucket-loads of synth; halfway through a distorted voice calls out:
“I remember standing in a cathedral somewhere in Northern Europe I think it was Paradiso The space around my head was ringing I felt like I finally touched this world”
It’s not a bad track, but both this song and the next couple that follow it are all missing that extra oomph that makes you want to go back and re-listen to them once they’re over – not even the Etta James sampling on Heart Is Full can save it from sounding like a bit of a filler track. Charlie XCX’s yearning vocals wade in on the heavier For U and that’s quite nice, but that’s all there is to say about it.
It’s only when we get to the chiller tones of I Feel The Weight, halfway through the album that we begin to shift into a more familiar-sounding territory; it gives off the slower, more laid-back mood of earlier Miike Snow albums. Wyatt’s filtered vocals on Back Of The Car drips with soul, but the rest of the tracks leave much more fleeting impressions. Top marks for imagination, sure – there’s all different sounds and instruments being thrown in here, whether it’s trumpets or orchestral ensembles or even hip-hop duo Run For The Jewels on the album’s closing track – but doesn’t quite make these songs memorable enough to want to go back and hear them again.
Don’t get me wrong: when Miike Snow are good, they’re really good. But there are a few too many tracks on this album that just weren’t worth waiting four years for. Let’s say there’s a reason iii opens with My Trigger and leave it at that. Still, you can have a bit of a groove to it to this album, and these songs cover so many different bases that there’s bound to be something for everyone, so who’s complaining? iii may not be the most memorable album you’ll listen to this year, but it’s still a fun ride.