Release Date: Sep 24, 2013
Record label: Atlantic
Genre(s): Pop, Electronic, Pop/Rock, Dance-Pop
We’ve not made it any secret that we’re pretty partial to a bit of Icona Pop here at Best Fit, but honestly, what’s not to love? The Swedish duo of Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo have lobbed crystalline pop into the ether consistently since their inception, and birthed arguably the mightiest summer stomper of 2013 – “I Love It” (featuring and written by goth-pop starlet Charli XCX) – which hit the coveted number one spot around the globe and has gone multi-multi-platinum. Not bloody bad at all. But, of course, the twosome couldn’t coast on the buzz of one single forever, no matter how elephantine and captivating.
Icona Pop struck gold with "I Love It," a single with so much staying power that it took almost two years to reach saturation on the airwaves and charts. The song's slow ascent allowed Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt the time they needed to craft an album with a similar mix of instant impact and staying power. The Iconic EP showed promise, but also suggested Hjelt and Jawo hadn't completely developed their approach outside of their massive single.
If last year’s Iconic EP was any indication of what to expect on Icona Pop’s debut LP, it was clear that the Swedish duo of Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo had a go-big-or-go-home mindset, and they weren’t planning on tucking themselves in anytime soon. Two songs from the EP made the cut for the album (“Ready For the Weekend” and, predictably, “I Love It”) and though the latter—a Charli XCX co-written club banger—still stands out high above the rest of the album’s tracks, the songs that comprise This Is. .
About a third of the way through Icona Pop's sold-out show last week at New York's Webster Hall, Caroline Hjelt pulled out what appeared to be a gold-plated kazoo. "This is a song about how much we like making out with people!" she and bandmate Aino Jawo declared, practically in unison, with the triumphant and outsized exuberance of a pair of Olympians who have just won an unexpected gold medal. The song is called "Then We Kiss", a thumping, hyperactive new-wave sunburst that concludes the Swedish duo's full-length debut, This Is…Icona Pop, a collection of cranked-up, EDM-influenced pop that sounds like a cross between ABBA's Gold and Andrew WK's I Get Wet.
As far as mainland European artists go, many struggle to gain widespread attention in the UK, let alone make it into the notoriously competitive charts of the US. Sweden however is an anomaly, producing artist after artist who are making a name for themselves. From Swedish House Mafia, Basshunter, Eric Prydz and Avicii, to Robyn, Peter, Bjorn and John, the Hives, and Lykke Li Sweden is constantly producing artists of high calibre and the world is lapping them up.
It has to be more than just the ‘Nineties bitches’ who have propelled Icona Pop to the top. The Swedish duo’s popularity spiked after the Charli XCX-featuring smash I Love It slo-mo exploded around the globe, and now comes their international debut album, This Is… Icona Pop. The rest of its songs employ much the same formula as I Love It. Communal, shouty vocals and singalong choruses combined with house production make everything a potential radio hit, leaving the album’s main drawback as its homogeneity.
Icona Pop's “I Love It” is 165 seconds of pop-house perfection—big, brassy, thumping, alternately sawing and soaring, an absolute shining jewel of what a dance anthem can sound like. It's a dopamine release system that all but demands that you bum-rush your way into the nearest superclub in exultant joy. Like Robyn, another act that inspires similar spontaneous expressions of hip-shaking elation, Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt are from Sweden.
When Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt shout "I'm a Nineties bitch" in their hit "I Love It," they're not kidding – the Swedish duo's music looks back to Jock Jams as the pinnacle of pop history. Their debut couldn't be more Nineties if it had a Michael Buffer voiceover or a song about Cory and Topanga. The pair instill joy and charm (and an occasional telltale Swedish accent) in head-hammering up-in-theclub chants about eternal weekends and heedless vitality.
By rights, ‘This Is… Icona Pop’ should be a triumph. A home run hit right out of the park, a shot rocketed into an open goal. With a Number One single behind them, high expectations and a couple of years turning out the best pop on the planet, the throne should be Caroline and Aino’s for the taking. And yet it isn’t.As an album, ‘This Is…’ just isn’t.
This Is... Icona Pop is the international debut album by Icona Pop (obviously). The Swedish duo made up of best friends Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt first made waves back in 2010 but became considerably more familiar when their juggernaut single I Love It, featuring Charli XCX, which propelled them into the international mainstream earlier this year.
Icona Pop owe their current popularity to the song ‘I Love It’. Released to little fanfare in May 2012, it has slowly became a global mega-hit. But the song’s success has confused Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo’s UK debut, and ‘This Is…’ offers an unsatisfying compromise between the edgy pop of the Swedes’ previous work and their attempts to become a massive band.
All music, or at least all pop, aims for a kind of catharsis. What’s the point of art, after all, if it doesn’t invoke some kind of response, doesn’t make you feel something? And, if it’s going to make you feel something, why shouldn’t that something be big and profound? While Icona Pop isn’t the only act carrying this train of thought to its most extreme conclusion, it’s the only group doing it with this much unadulterated anger and raw joy. In their first full-length LP, This Is… Icona Pop, the Swedish duo of Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo are building on several years’ worth of anticipation, and there are times when they seem too nervous to deliver.
“Stepping over cracks in the pavement/ Another night of being wasted” “I’m waking up/ Up on the floor/ Still looking perfect” “They say you’re a freak when we’re having fun/ Say you must be high when we’re spreading love/ But we’re just living life and we’ll never stop/ We got the world” I wanted to hate this album before I heard it. I wanted to raze it to the ground, to wipe it from existence, to tear it apart. Does that sound unfair? After all, the critic, we are told, must remain impartial.
The first thing you notice is all the screaming. Icona Pop is a Swedish duo, Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo — singers both, but shouters more. Their hit is “I Love It,” inescapable for the last year, at home at indie dance parties and sports arenas alike. The hook is naïve and cheeky and, depending on your angle, exuberant or petulant: “I! Don’t! Care! I love it!” The group’s second album, “This Is ...
opinion byJEAN-LUC MARSH The truth of the matter is that we live in a post-“I Love It” world. Icona Pop have irrevocably altered the soundscape of every party you will ever attend, setting an impossibly high standard for any don’t-give-a-damn pop banger to follow. At first, this appeared to be a mutually beneficial arrangement for both Icona Pop and the world.