Niki & The Dove – Instinct

written by: May 16, 2012
Release Date: August 7, 2012


Niki & The Dove is a contender for the alternative/indie break-out summer band of 2012. I wouldn’t doubt that Niki & The Dove might get a weekly post on some of the most respected and popular music blogs like Hipster Runoff. I wouldn’t doubt if the band ended up getting some last minute slots at festivals after which blogs will post pictures of their performance with their lead-member Malin Dahlström wearing a fun outfit, but that won’t stop the most important thing behind Niki & the Dove: their powerful music.

The electronic synth-pop trio from Stockholm takes influence from all types of genres and eras of electronic music. Instinct is a solid collection of songs that range from being accessible and flashy like Madonna’s to as experimental and intimate as something off Visions by Grimes. The things that Niki & The Dove share with Grimes don’t sound like a rip-off or gimmick in any way, shape or form. In fact, Niki & The Dove show more versatility, confidence and fun with their sound.

From the opening moment Instinct sounds like it’s going to be Visions with its slightly arpeggiated synthesizers in a macabre tone complimented by  the vocals  that carry the song until  the verse, but then the like the light at the end of the tunnel the chorus comes through with crashing waves of giant walls of sound that are only heightened by Malin’s voice belting out the chorus: “I’m ready to learn/What it takes to burn/I wanna let you show me/What it means to breathe fire.” That blends into a little bridge that consists of helium-sounding vocals sung by Mickey Mouse after heavy dose of Ketamine…and that’s just the first track.

The rest of Instinct takes you in crazy directions as well as extremely poppy ones. For instance, the next track on the album, “The Drummer,” is a straight-up club-style dance song. It’s got a constant beat and a catchy synth hook that are more reminiscent of a song in the background of intense moments during “Miami Vice” or “Top Gun” than the present day electronic scene.

These less creative songs on the album that are more dance inspired are entertaining in their own way, but just as loud dance songs. Niki & The Dove can rock these songs with confidence and some originality of their own, but they simply cannot hold a candle to the truly artistic songs on this album.

“Winterheart” will put a lump in your throat because at its core it is a truly emotional love song that uses electronic music as a vehicle to bring the subject to a new light and see it in a new way. If you were to transfer a song like “Winterheart” into a rock or acoustic version it wouldn’t be able to take off in the same way that its electronic wings let it soar to.

The dark effect that the strumming of the muted bass and guitars on “The Fox” go back to a day when The Cure was making Goth songs like “A Forest,” but “The Fox” is able to exfoliate into an entirely new creature with powerful synths that move you in your seat.

Because of this, Instinct is an album that works like a fireworks show that keeps re-inventing the way they approach their craft mixing and matching all the different colors and explosions you wouldn’t think to put together.

Each time you think that Niki & The Dove won’t be able to do something new, the group will work like a chameleon and change the way they use their sound to create something new.

The influence of ‘80s music and sounds on Instinct is done in a tasteful way that doesn’t feel like a band going for retro just because they want to. Combining these old influences while throwing it on top of cutting edge electronic pop and actually finding something in the mix that works is impressive. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see a wave of copycat bands that harness Niki & The Dove’s sound similar to all the distortion heavy, reverb reliant, indie-rock groups that formed after the rise of Wavves and Best Coast. There are many songs that can stand alone on this album as great tracks, but Instinct closes on an almost epic note that will make you feel like you’ve actually had an experience after listening all the way through.

Niki & The Dove – Instinct Tracklist:

  1. “Tomorrow”
  2. “The Drummer”
  3. “In Your Eyes”
  4. “The Gentle Roar”
  5. “Mother Protect”
  6. “Last Night”
  7. “Somebody”
  8. “Love to the Test”
  9. “DJ, Ease My Mind”
  10. “Winterheart”
  11. “The Fox”
  12. “Under the Bridges (Extended Version)”