Album Review of Everybody's Heart Is Broken Now by Niki and the Dove.
Release Date: Apr 22, 2016
Record label: Universal
Niki + the Dove's second album is out. Even for an avid fan of underground hits such as 'The Drummer', this is a surprising statement. The truth is, Everybody's Heart Is Broken Now has been plagued with minimal support from UK publications and a home country only release after the band departed from Sub Pop. For many devout fans of Malin Dahlström and Gustaf Karlöf's debut album, this LP is one of the most anticipated of 2016 after a near silent four-year break since the release of 'Instinct'.
You could make a fair argument that the Swedish electro-pop trend faded away with the Knife’s breakup in 2014. Although correlation is definitely not causation, all the local scenesters who lifted plenty of elements from the synth-pioneers stayed pretty quiet last year, with the most notable synthpop records from the region—Kate Boy’s One, Tove Stryke’s Kiddo, Say Lou Lou’s Lucid Dreaming—being relatively slept on. Thus, it is somewhat fitting that Niki and the Dove, the Swedish duo responsible for one of the most essential albums in that realm (2012’s Instinct), have left everything behind with their sophomore release.
When Niki & The Dove emerged in 2011, sequins and tassels sparkling and swaying under a full moon, it seemed like a natural dovetailing of unflinching Fleetwood Mac nostalgia and the ubiquitousness of gap-year soundtrackers like MGMT and Empire Of The Sun. Malin Dahlström’s vocals channeled Stevie Nicks like a seance for a living legend, as though Nicks were astral projecting to a higher electronic pop plane (Sweden). The palette Niki & The Dove were playing with put them in danger of disappearing into the synthesized thickets, but they remained in the public consciousness thanks to a Skrillex remix and Alex Metric and Jacques Lu Cont enlisting Dahlström for Safe With You, a massive banger that sounded like their debut if it took place at poppers o’clock instead of the witching hour.
Niki and the Dove's Malin Dahlström has one of the most fantastic voices in pop. The Gothenburg native has that slightly wry, raspy delivery that distinguishes all the best Scandi singers, as well as Stevie Nicks' pout, Prince's faith, and a way of selling her lyrics as if she's working through her dramas in real time. Skrillex recognized these qualities when he sampled her vocals from Niki's debut single "DJ, Ease My Mind" on his 2014 album Recess, which could have primed the Swedish duo (completed by Gustaf Karlöf) for a move into the EDM big leagues.
Niki and the Dove's 2012 debut album, Instinct, solidified their reputation for euphoric, pounding pop intensity that was best exemplified by song like "The Drummer" and "DJ Ease My Mind," on which they pushed their mesmerizing synths to the edge. Where their debut featured songs about letting go, feeling the rhythm and longing for someone special, their latest effort, Everybody's Heart Is Broken Now, find the band taking a totally different route. Instead, we get the aftermath of the painful reality of picking yourself up and recovering after a particularly emotional rollercoaster.
In 2012 Niki & The Dove came fifth in the BBC’s Sound of Poll, released their debut album Instinct (7. 9 in Pitchfork, 8 out of 10 in NME, “one of the essential debuts of 2012” according to BBC Music, a recommended listen in these hallowed pages, and a metacritic score of 73 overall) and seemed destined for greatness. So how, four years down the line, can album number two only get a release in their home country of Sweden? How has it come to this? Instinct was a pop album of gigantic proportions; the sound of Stevie Nicks dropping an E in the club, a Laurel Canyon free spirit clashing against booming drums and pulsating rhythms with every single track a hit-in-waiting.