Release Date: Mar 4, 2016
Record label: Atlantic
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Listening to iii, their first album in four years, it proves easy to see why the members of Miike Snow have been in such popular demand as writers and producers. Yet when the trio get together to make their own pop music, there is a joyous and carefree sense of adventure to their compositions, the rulebook tossed aside as they prey on their own instinctive ideas. More often than not it’s a tactic that works, producing left of centre pop music that works equally well on a discerning dancefloor as it does in a cosy living room.
Swedish avant pop trio Miike Snow returned after a four-year silence with their third LP, the appropriately titled iii. Progressing naturally from their previous releases, iii is a collection of soul-infused pop-fusion nuggets. Hook maestros Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg -- also known as Bloodshy & Avant, writers of Britney's Grammy-winning "Toxic" -- and Andrew Wyatt built reputations with their knack for inventive songcraft, which is well executed here on their own material.
The first two Miike Snow records weren’t without their guilty pleasures, but iii, the high-powered Swedish trio’s new project, is easily their most robust and impressive work to date. The product of a three-year hiatus, it features not only some of their catchiest pure pop, but also the group’s most thrilling forays into a darker, heftier sound. While pure synth electronica served as the backbone for 2009’s Miike Snow and 2012’s Happy to You, a defiant hip-hop edge courses through the heart of this record.
Anyone who listens to Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue, or Madonna on a regular basis owes a grand thank you to Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg. The Swedish production duo, collectively known as Bloodshy & Avant, have engineered some of the hottest slices of pop magic since they first began making hits back in the early 2000s (remember Toxic? that was them). Beginning in 2007, Karlsson and Winnberg teamed up with vocalist Andrew Wyatt and the result was Miike Snow, a band every bit as eccentric as the duplicated “i” in their name and the emblematic jackalope gracing their album covers.
There are those who don’t just write songs, they write songs, and the write them for and with other artists who can perform them well. There are “producers”, who know a thing or two about math and how that corresponds into making a song sound awesome. Then there are performers. That Miike Snow is made up of three guys (Andrew Wyatt, Christian Karlsson, Pontius Winnberg) who are all decorated triple threats makes them something of an anomaly.
It’s been nearly four years since transatlantic trio Miike Snow last put out an album, leading some to assume the project was on the back-burner whilst members focused on solo material and production duties elsewhere. As such, a busy schedule meant ‘III’ was recorded sporadically over a two year period in various, often separate, cities. In lesser hands, a scattered recording process might lead to to a fractured finished product, but ‘III’ harbours a cohesion that serves as a testament to the chemistry of Miike Snow.
Review Summary: Vacation pay.Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg, also known as production duo Bloodshy & Avant, could be forgiven for taking it easy. Having crafted pop hits for the past decade – not to mention “Toxic” the best pop song of the millennium (I will brook no dissent) – Miike Snow always seemed like a bit of a vanity throwaway. Then, surprise!– 2009’s debut was actually one of the best electro-pop records of that heady time, its swirling mix of vibrating bass and stabby synths eerily presaging a future where electronic is less of a buzzword and more of an assumption.
As Bloodshy & Avant, the Swedish production duo Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg have racked up an array of writing credits for the likes of Britney and Kylie. They are not advised to give up the day job, but their third album with the American singer Andrew Wyatt brings a slightly more playful approach to their showroom-finish pop. The songs are laden with innuendo – see (“pull”) My Trigger – and the stalkerish Genghis Khan (“I get a little bit Genghis Khan / I don’t want you to get it on with anyone else but me”) is tongue in cheek rather than sinister.
Christian Karlsson, Pontus Winnberg, and Andrew Wyatt could have vanished into retirement even prior to Miike Snow’s 2009 self-titled debut and they’d probably still be living comfortably on their stream of songwriter royalties. Having amassed a collection of writing credits that rivals the Midas of pop songwriting, Max Martin, the trio literally live on their ability to craft an immediately infectious hook. The charismatic “Animal” and “Burial” gained traction during the summer of 2009, and gave birth to a new wave of electropop.
The Swedish-American pop/production trio of Andrew Wyatt, Christian Karlsson, and Pontus Winnberg have amassed a formidable backlog of pop bangers over the last decade. As Bloodshy & Avant, Winnberg and Karlsson sexed up Britney Spears’ visionary “Toxic,” clubbed up Katy Perry’s “Love Me,” and raved up Madonna’s “How High,” among others. Wyatt has also co-written and produced material for the Libertines’ Carl Barat, as well as funk-pop titans Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson.
When Miike Snow formed in 2007, the trio of producers delivered a refreshing alternative to groovy electro-pop, creating a canvas of dance tracks with splashes of colorful melodic passages that kept you interested. With iii, it has devolved into paint by numbers..
Three records in, the members of Sweden’s Miike Snow remain highly detailed pop craftsmen with a sure understanding of sharp hooks. That’s both a strength and a weakness: The architecture of these layered slices of electro-pop is transparent, but the songs never offer more than surface pleasures. Producers Christian Karlson and Pontus Winnberg are rhythmically aggressive, adding a twist of funk to their swirls of effects, keyboards, and spacious harmonies.
In the four years since their last album, Happy To You, the members of Swedish/American pop trio Miike Snow have distracted themselves with solo albums, mainstream pop production and EDM side projects. They’ve come back with a drive to reinvent themselves, and the results bring them closer to a chart pop sound while also going in some stranger and more aggressive directions. They seem much more influenced by mainstream hip-hop and much less by house music – that’s the biggest shift.