The production duo of Bloodshy & Avant, famous for working with starlets such as Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue and Madonna, release their second album with their band Miike Snow.
Genre: Indie, Pop, Electro
Label: Columbia, Sony
Recorded: Robotberger Studio (Stockholm) Downtown Recording Studio (New York)
Producer: Miike Snow
Released: March 2012
1. “Enter the Jokers Lair” 3:28
2. “The Wave” 3:43
3. “Devil’s Work” 3:55
4. “Vase” 3:40
5. “God Help This Divorce” 4:32
6. “Bavarian #1 (Say You Will)” 4:02
7. “Pretender” 3:33
8. “Archipelago” 4:05
9. “Black Tin Box” (featuring Lykke Li) 5:33
10. “Paddling Out” 3:37
Bloodshy & Avant consist of Swedish based producers Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg and together with American vocalist Andrew Wyatt, make up Miike Snow. It is always interesting to hear what famous producers get up to once the tables are turned and they release their own material. You cannot help but ask, “Can they write good songs or just create interesting sound bites?” With a silly album title like ‘Happy to You’ one could be forgiven for having doubts.
It takes a while to acclimatize to the group’s quirky composing style. ‘Enter the Jokers Lair’ is laden with such quirks. The song consists of many different elements all finely laced together. Each instrument moves in and out at precise and calculated moments creating a distinct flow and an intriguing sonic texture. It seems the guys work more from a production stand point than try to craft a song out of a mash of ideas and producing techniques. ‘The Wave’ is catchy and you can hear hip hop influences in it as well as over the entire album. The lyrics on this song…and on all the material, seems utterly random and weightless, not horrible mind you but a bit pointless and seem more like an afterthought.
‘Devil’s Work’ has some great production and clever composition on it, the brass section lifts the song so much. You do crave a better vocal on all the tracks and this one most. It could have been better with a soaring vocal take. Wyatt has an interesting voice but it lacks punch, nuance and range, preventing the songs from coming alive and taking them to the next level. ‘God Help This Divorce’ sounds like it was culled from outtakes on Coldplay’s ‘Mylo Xyloto’. It has a lovely ethereal quality but grounded with a strong beat. The vocal is a tad too dry; Chris Martin would have made a great guest vocalist on the song.
The catchiest vocal hook can be found on the bizarrely titled, ‘Bavarian #1 (Say You Will)’ and ‘Pretender’ sounds like the quintessential indie, electro-pop song, the low brass part in it is pure class. The prettiest and possibly the best song on the album is ‘Archipelago’. The piano riff and progressions are keepers. The cute synth breakdown is actually quite magical and makes the song even more compelling.
‘Happy to You’ might be a weird album title and some of the lyrics on it might seem off kilter but these Swedes sure know how to craft ideas together. ABBA’s influence and powers seem to rub off on all of Sweden as these guys are just one of many Swedes who are working in the international music scene. The album does suffer from clumsy musical moments, at times the vocals don’t sit comfortably next to the music especially when the music changes sharply within a song preventing a consistent vocal melody. The music moves around too much at times with parts changing too unexpectedly. ‘Happy to You’ is better than the sum of its parts and highlights the strengths of the album format in today’s singles driven market.