No Nikki, no dove, just a band that lets its music do the talking

There is no Niki and there is no Dove. Like their Swedish electro-pop counterparts The Knife, Niki and the Dove like to keep their personal details very private, so apart from their names and their music, it seems that we know very little about them but, in a musical world that sometimes feels like itÂ’s being taken over by the sob stories of X-Factor contestants, a band who simply let their music do all the talking is a welcome relief.

This electronic duo consists of vocalist Malin Dahlstrom and primary songwriter/keyboard player Gustav Karlof, and between the two of them, Niki and the Dove cover an eclectic range of sounds from retro electronica to modern pop, with dazzling arrangements in a classic pop framework reminiscent of the likes of Little Dragon and Bat for Lashes. 2011 was a big year for the group as they have released an EP and, more recently, a self-titled album, and many music critics expect big things from them this year – they have been shortlisted for the BBC’s ‘Sound of 2012 Award’, one of the UK’s premier awards for emerging artists.

What is interesting about Niki and the Dove is that they are capable of marrying concepts together that seem to oppose each other. Their music is, on first listen, very pop-orientated, with catchy hook lines and often an upbeat tempo, but this is tempered with layers of complexity. Upon further listening, other more subtle aspects of the songs come to attention – the single ‘DJ Ease My Mind’ features tribal-style percussion underneath the main electronic drum beat, which is reminiscent of Florence and the Machine’s debut album, and the instrumentation of every song seems to reflect a natural landscape – something it seems Scandinavian artists have a special talent for. Malin’s lyrics are also very closely linked to the natural environment.

Song titles such as ‘The Fox’, ‘Mother Protect’ and ‘Winterheart’ all hint at a love of the beauty of nature that comes from a genuine place in the singer’s heart, and the fact that the band use so many electronic and artificial instruments to display a love of natural things is a wonderful irony that makes perfect sense when you hear them perform.

At the same time, these deeper, conceptual ideas are not essential to finding enjoyment in Niki and the Dove’s music. Several songs are genuine dancefloor fillers in their own right, such as ‘Under the Bridges’ where Malin’s voice (“It takes me back/to the night we danced/under the bridges”) emerges from a jerky synth interlude along with a beautifully simple drum beat. It’s a very simple chorus, but simplicity and brilliance so often go hand in hand when it comes to pop music.

While Niki and the Dove may never achieve chart-topping success, their slightly secretive personal nature seems to suggest they do not want to. But they could be a band who develop a large cult following over the coming months and years. They seem to be continually creative – preferring to retreat into the studio than to spend time doing interviews and promotion – and to true music lovers this can only be a good thing. So whether you are looking for a deep and moving musical experience, or simply a great beat and a hard floor on which to move your feet, Lille Vega can provide both on Friday night.

Niki and the Dove
Lille Vega;
Friday 21:00; 140kr;

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