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Album Review: Niki & the Dove – Instinct

Photo: Facebook

Niki and the Dove have gone from strength to strength since I wrote my introducing article on them last year. It seems everybody was just as keen to welcome them with open arms; first the appearance on the NME radar tour, then a placing on the Sound of 2012 poll by none other than the BBC. But hype can be a very dangerous thing and after a lengthy wait for their debut, the swedes have their future resting on their ability to live up to it.

The slow burner ‘Tomorrow’ opens the album, bursting into an explosion of a chorus that lets you know that Niki and the Dove may dabble with experimentation but they are first and foremost a pop act. Singles ‘The Drummer’ and ‘DJ, Ease My Mind’ highlight this fact even further with their catchy refrains and radio-friendly nature. It’s refreshing, however, that the biggest hit is yet to be given the single treatment; the enormous ‘Somebody’ is an anthemic breakthrough hit waiting to happen.

Malin Dahlström and Gustaf Karlöf don’t do things entirely by the book though. As their name suggests, there is a massive focus on nature in these tracks – be it human instinct and survival or environmental muses, the banal, exhausted references to endless partying begins and ends with the first word in the title of ‘DJ, Ease My Mind’ (and even that explores sonically induced memories as opposed to up-all-night clubbing). ‘Instinct’ boasts lyrics that are interesting, introspective and unique to Niki and the Dove – the entirety of ‘Mother Protect’ and ‘The Fox’ should give a good impression of the subject matters Dahlström’s voice envelops itself in.

Photo: Simon McMurdo

It’s not all plain sailing, either, as ‘In Our Eyes’ treads the same mid-tempo ground as the  inoffensive ‘Last Night’ and does it heaps better. ‘Winterheart’ is another decent track that is almost pulverized by it’s competition – the symphonic beauty of ‘Love To The Test’, the pounding drumbeat of ‘The Fox’ and the resonating chants of closer ‘Under The Bridges’.

Bringing Enya and Avicii together might not initially seem like a good idea but perhaps if someone had done it sooner, Niki and the Dove had arrived on the scene a little earlier. The glacial touches to their compositions are melted by the vast emotion in Malin’s voice and the delivery of the simple beauty integral to the lyrics; it’s this sentiment of dancing the cares away that makes ‘Instinct’ something relevant to the current music scene, yet finely connected to the greatest muse of all – human nature.

Photos: Facebook & Simon McMurdo
Words: Simon McMurdo

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