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Miike Snow: Happy to You
In 2007, Swedish musicians Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg met American singer and songwriter Andrew Wyatt and came to form the band Miike Snow. Choosing a name that belongs to a friend of the band, they opted to spell it like that of famous Japanese director Takashi Miike’s surname.
Their single ‘Animal’, released February 2009 on their eponymously titled debut album, gained critical acclaim. Later, the song ‘Silvia’, which was also re-mixed by DJ Sebastian Ingrosso, garnered great praise and further widened the band’s audience. Anticipation grew upon hearing the band would release a second album; Happy to You.
The album stays true to their indie-pop nature, with an added hint of electro to the mix – similar to their previous album. The first track, ‘Enter the Joker’s Lair’ makes for a good introduction for what lies ahead. The fantastic musical transitions and background harmonies offered in the intro track make for a satisfying opening.
Interesting new sound techniques and effects are also experimented with on this album to good results. Fans of the song ’Silvia‘ from their previous album will enjoy ’Pretender‘ as it delivers in similar style. ’Archipelago‘ will please all of the hardcore indie-rock fans out there, sounding much like Vampire Weekend.
‘Paddling Out’ and ‘The Wave’ are by far the best two songs on the whole album; the simple yet catchy piano chords and distinct drumbeat of the former in particular are exceptional. The latter’s witty lyrics and marching drumbeat also come together well. Both songs are available in great remixes on the bonus CD, both of which were done by Grammy nominated house music producer Wolfgang Gartner and producer Style of Eye.
Seldom do we find an album that mixes both electro-pop and indie without crashing into mid-air failure. The eccentric members of Miike Snow have stayed true to a genre that they have made their own, and give insight into what could well be the future sound of indie music.
Album opener ‘San Angeles’ will get feet moving and booties shaking, but the rest of the album is decidedly more post-rock oriented. The influences of Pink Floyd only really make a grand appearance on psychedelic tune ‘Lunar Drift’, with its spooky synths and echoing bass line.
‘The Eliminator’ takes the listener back to the eighties again, as the repetitive electronic beat that is used sounds a lot like the 8-bit sounds that were the backdrop for many early eighties video games. Imagine the aforementioned desert wasteland turning 8-bit coloured.
The eighties also dominate in the strummed intro to ‘Martin Rev’, evoking memories of Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’. You’d almost think the guys of Maserati had wished they were making music a few decades ago.
Perennial chart-toppers and masterminds behind hit singles like Moves like Jagger, Payphone and One More Night, Maroon 5, are back after a two year hiatus – and expectations are high.
Maps, which was released earlier this years as a single, opens the bands fifth studio album, V, with an upbeat vibe and Levine’s and quite clearly auto-tuned, yet amiable all the same, vocals. The song, just like most of the other songs on the album, is, in classic Maroon 5 fashion; it’s extremely catchy and will almost inevitabely turn into a long-ter, guilty pleasure.
The following track, 'Animals', is somewhat inconspicuous but for Levine’s peculiur howling – literally like an animal – towards the end. Things taka a romantic turn with 'It Was Always You', though the mixture of fast and slow beats and the fact that it largely manages to stay away from clichéd sentiments and cheesy lyrics make it one of the album’s standout tracks.
V then momentarily calms down with the soulful 'Unkiss Me' and then speeds up again with 70’s-inpired chorus of 'Sugar'. Hands-in-the-air, festival-appropriate ballad, 'Leaving California', follows and puts Levine’s high-pitched vocals on full display.
It wouldn’t be a Maroon 5 album without a song about a cheating significant other and 'In Your Pocket' satisfies what has almost become the band’s trademark subject of choice.
From there on, the album takes a turn for the worse, down the boring bubble-gum-pop lane. With themes like demanding a lover’s forgiveness if he ever does her wrong, crooning about getting back to a lover soon and urging a girl to leave other guys and find her way to him in 'Feelings'.
The album, thankfully, ends on a more musically mature note with a touching duet with Gwen Stefani. Piano notes dominate the beat of ‘My Heart is Open’ as Levine and Stefani’s vocals complement each other perfectly.
Ultimately, V is quite indistinguishable from the band’s fourth release, Overexposed. It’s an album that pushes the band further away from the intangible essence that won them so many fans back in 2002 with the release of debut album, Songs About Jane, towards the oblivion of the teen-spirited music they have produce as of late.