Album Review

Happy To You

Happy To You

by Miike Snow


Universal Republic Records
6.2 / 10
16th April 2012

Reviewed by Justin Paul


Miike Snow are three talented producers: two Swedes and an American with ‘serious pop credentials’ - an oxymoron if ever there was. Between them, they have had fingers in the musical pies of Madonna, Kelis, Kylie Minogue, Bruno Mars and Britney Spears’s ‘Toxic’. Nordic melancholic this is not. I can already see the bearded reader hitching up his trackies before he shakes the crumbs from his Kerrang! back catalogue. But if you are prepared to lift the blinds on your gloomy bed-sit for a few minutes, Happy To You will reward you with the aural equivalent of Vitamin D.

Opener ‘Enter the Joker’s Lair’ introduces the listener to the light that flashes throughout the album, but instead of sunshine, synths twinkle and drums burst across the vast Northern Lights. Second track ‘The Wave’ is lit by an insistent chorus, martial snares and house piano riffs. The drums and piano star again in the album’s best track, ‘Devil’s Work’, but it is their combination with - and the perfect timing of - the towering horn section that makes this track one of the year’s best. ‘Paddling Out’ is the third fantastic single on the album, and its disco beat will drag the most reluctant punter to the dancefloor: it is one of those nagging tracks that tugs on your arm, refusing to let you nurse your Speights in peace.

Like the trio’s eponymous 2009 debut, Happy To You has divided critical opinion. Those who can endure the invariably high vocals of electro-pop will revel in Miike Snow’s ability to write infectious, off-kilter pop tunes in the fashion of Hot Chip, MGMT and fellow Scandinavians, Röyksopp. For most, however, this album will become shiny, happy music best served in small doses. Each of us listens to music in different ways for different reasons: for many, the lyrics are the least important ingredient. Of course, lyrics elevate some albums to greatness, while great singers can sometimes persuade us to overlook banal lyrics (e.g. Radiohead), but on Happy To You, one doesn’t even begin to engage with the words because Andrew Wyatt’s vocals are so non-committal. If a singer is to be believed, he must convince the audience to listen to what he has to say, but Wyatt sounded as if he was singing for the wrong band, as if he should be singing something darker.

Like a kaleidoscope, there are moments of unexpected brilliance everywhere - the horns in ‘Devil’s Work’, the strings on ‘Bavarian #1’, the sax on ‘Pretender’ and making the word ‘Archipelago’ fit a chorus … But when all is said and done, we are left holding a cheap children’s toy whose novelty soon wears off; if we shake it and look too closely, it merely rearranges itself into something similarly pretty and plastic.

One for the cherry-picking iPod crowd – essential tracks: ‘Devil’s Work’ and ‘Paddling Out’.






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