The first full-length release from Stockholm’s Malin Dahlström and Gustaf Karlöf—a.k.a. electro-pop duo Niki & the Dove—feels like the love child of Joy Division and Madonna. Their grey-tinted pop brings to mind Scotland’s Sons and Daughters. But where Sons and Daughters’ recent output has suffered from sluggishness, Niki & the Dove offer commendable melodic and rhythmic variety.
On the album’s opener, “Tomorrow,” Dahlström demonstrates her voice’s remarkable capacity for both whispering contemplation and a soaring, hearty soprano. She doesn’t sacrifice intimacy for power—she embraces both. (Someone should pass the memo on to Florence Welch, and also ask her to please stop yelling at me.) Instinct’s liberal use of synthesizers and layered vocals gives the album a distinctly ’80s bent; the production is shiny and taut, like a well-toned beach bum.
Still, the album has a dark side. Judging by its title, “DJ, Ease My Mind” should be a party anthem akin to “Play” or “Hey Mr. DJ.” But the song—like the album it’s on—finds the sorrow that lies beneath the impulse to have a wild night out.
Playlist picks: “Tomorrow,” “The Fox”