Miike Snow
Happy to You


3.5
great

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
March 14th, 2012 | 79 replies | 13,157 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Another distinctive electro offering that proves their debut was not a fluke.

It’s not exactly Sonny Moore leaving post-hardcore to twiddle knobs and worship at the altar of day-glo paint and Ecstasy as Skrillex, but the ease with which Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg have transitioned from crafting Top 40 epics as Bloodshy & Avant (see: Britney Spears – “Toxic”) to playing 260 shows and landing festival headlining slots as live band Miike Snow is nearly as impressive, not to mention eminently more listenable. Their self-titled debut was an unassuming collection of electro pop gems that rocketed to indie stardom on the backs of singles like “Animal” and “Black and Blue.” It was the kind of genre fusion Karlsson and Winnberg have been doing for years, a dynamic blend of dance, house and indie music, but the addition of versatile vocalist Andrew Wyatt and the emphasis on live instruments made Miike Snow that rarest of specimens: a fully-formed band right out the gate, with a cutting-edge electro album that sounded fresh and vital rather than a recycled MGMT-lite.

Happy to You, happily enough, is not a mere retread of Miike Snow, which wouldn’t have been surprising given the band’s grueling touring schedule and the fact that, well, a song like “Animal” is good for some serious airplay. Their signature sound is still electronic, marrying the pop sensibilities of Vampire Weekend with the feverish beats of Passion Pit and the grimier atmosphere of the clubs Karlsson and Winnberg have long been accustomed to. While Karlsson and Winnberg and their beatmaking savvy remain the backbone, Happy to You reveals itself as more of a diverse record than its predecessor. Things are much more textured, the trio clearly reveling in the live sound that they had perfected on the road rather than grounding themselves firmly in the electronics of their debut. The melodies seem largely more fleshed out, given extra weight by the fuller sounds the band more often than not embrace. “Devil’s Work” highlights the differences between the two records: in its reverb-heavy piano vamp, haunting tonal shifts and Wyatt’s ghostly vocals, it’s reminiscent of what made Miike Snow tracks like “Silvia” so successful; yet Wyatt’s voice in the chorus is awash not in synths but in lush strings and a swelling brass melody. It’s the natural link between their debut and this record, the precursor to the almost twee organ and martial drum rolls on the psychedelic “Bavarian #1 (Say You Will)” and the sparkling indie pop of “Archipelago,” where a whistle solo and a sunnily propulsive chorus reminiscent of the Shins belie Wyatt’s typically subversive lyrics.

First single “Paddling Out” is most likely to captivate fans of “Animal,” with an insistent, syncopated beat and a similar contrast between the song’s infectious tone and melancholy lyrics (“there’s someone here who laughs too hard at everything” begins the chorus), but for all the band’s efforts, there is nothing here that approaches the immediacy of Miike Snow. It’s a necessary trade-off, perhaps, as Happy to You is much more of a proper album, to be listened to as an entire whole, than Miike Snow ever was. It’s an up-and-down ride, and while there is not really a “bad” song, per se, on here (I find it hard to believe pop professionals like Karlsson and Winnberg could even write a bunk hook), there isn’t a gripping, defining standout like “Silvia.” Centerpiece “God Help This Divorce” comes the closest, its dreamy, Revolver-esque textures warping a straightforward (yet decidedly dark) ballad into a kaleidoscopic display of the band’s studio prowess, and it’s notable too in that it is easily the furthest of all the songs here from their earlier work.

That decision to expand their sound and focus more on the links between where they were and where they want to go is the true treat of Happy to You. It’s evident in the percolating, stygian synths of “Black Tin Box,” which uses Lykke Li’s throaty voice to great effect in creating a threatening, foreboding mood, or in the sparse drums and surging bursts of noise on the twitchy “Vase.” And where a song like “Paddling Out” or “Devil’s Work” likely would have made much more sense as an opener, “Enter The Joker’s Lair,” with its skittish drums, see-sawing electronics, and general preference for skirting around its melody with bleeps and bloops rather than driving it home, stands out as the band’s clear mission statement for the album – don’t be afraid to shake things up. Happy to You is not as arresting as Miike Snow, nor will it likely make as much of an immediate impact. But for a genre well versed in sophomore stagnation, Miike Snow’s willingness to test their boundaries is a pleasant surprise.



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user ratings (88)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
March 13th 2012



10258 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

out two weeks early on iTunes

get "God Help This Divorce" if nothing else

Digging: The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven

Hep Kat
March 13th 2012



15047 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i like electro pop so i guess i should get this. good review

Digging: Sir Michael Rocks - Banco

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 13th 2012



10258 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

hep have you heard the first album one of my favorites of 09

xfearbefore
March 13th 2012



1245 Comments


Fantastic review here, well done. This sounds like it might be worth checking out.

Digging: Tiger Army - Tiger Army

Winsomniac
March 13th 2012



7955 Comments


God dammit, Rudy. Way to ruin one of my most beloved childhood story characters.


Review is okay, I guess.

Vespiion
March 13th 2012



1221 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I change shapes just to hide in this place but I'm still, I'm still an animal.

Digging: BADBADNOTGOOD - BBNG2

Winsomniac
March 13th 2012



7955 Comments


Paddling Out is really catchy.

Makemebad35
March 13th 2012



737 Comments


Really like the other CD so I'll be def. checking this out.

Mordecai.
March 13th 2012



8270 Comments


i want this in and around my sex

TMobotron
Contributing Reviewer
March 14th 2012



7026 Comments


First album is just irresistibly fun, gotta get this.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 14th 2012



30893 Comments


Saw electro and got excited

Disappointed

Digging: FaltyDL - In The Wild

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 14th 2012



10258 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

did you not like their first album dev i feel like you would have

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 14th 2012



30893 Comments


Never heard of 'em

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 14th 2012



10258 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

tsk tsk

Scoot
March 14th 2012



17682 Comments


debut was excellent need to get this

Digging: Unjust - Glow

HBFS
March 14th 2012



1218 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

very strong album. god help this divorce through to archipelago is fucking excellent

Digging: Jamie xx - Girl/Sleep Sound

Winsomniac
March 14th 2012



7955 Comments


Dev, I have a feeling you've heard some iteration of 'Silvia' at least, but might not have associated it with Miike Snow.



I mean seriously, do you not watch Chuck or something? I swear you must live i- oh..

enkasol
March 14th 2012



2 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i love this. but the first was better

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 14th 2012



30893 Comments



I mean seriously, do you not watch Chuck or something? I swear you must live i- oh..


We do have Chuck in NZ, I've never watched it though

Youtubed them and checked out a track called 'Animal' (sounds awfully familiar so I guess I have heard them!), and it was pretty average. Disposable synthpop tune that washes away as easily as summer

chambered69
March 14th 2012



1253 Comments


lol i need this



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