Instinct, the debut album from Niki & The Dove sounds, in theory, like the anticipated followup record from that certain other mysterious Swedish synth-pop group, but the similarities end at the biographical stage.
Niki & The Dove, led by vocalist Malin Dahlstrom and key-smith Gustaf Karlof, have put some oddly sensible brain cells together to form this album. Which of the two is Niki, and which is The Dove, are unresolved questions that will most likely remain unanswered due to the group’s resistance to any interview question that doesn’t interest them. Rightly so, because that would be a terrible question. The answer would ring irrelevant and superfluous anyway because this group, like any one worth listening to, is more about music than names.
The strange parallels with compatriots The Knife fade away as soon as the songs start. Dahlstrom’s singing calls more on Kate Bush and Julee Cruise (or even Madonna at times), than it does Karen Dreijer Andersson, and the instrumentals tend to hit somewhere between next-generation house and old-school shoegaze.
The songs may sound a bit amateurish at times, but they reflect a labor of love, which is refreshing to hear. Instinct is dramatic, anthemic, and fun at once. Niki & The Dove have the musical sensibilities of a class act, and they are just waiting to be developed. The record skirts the line between stylistic experimentation and lack of focus, but it flows nicely. Tracks like “Gentle Roar” are relatively non-melodic chants backed by echoing drum blasts, which runs seamlessly into lush keyboard-driven tunes like “Somebody” and “Winterheart.”
Overall Instinct is a solid collection of catchy pop songs with a brain, and it should get your head bobbing and feet tapping from start to finish. A solid debut record if there ever was one. Niki & The Dove show a lot of promise for sure, and they’re bound to blow up soon, so get in on the ground floor.