New band of the day – No 913: Niki and the Dove

This Swedish group's goth-tinged electro-pop is full of witchy darkness and mystical allure

Hometown: Stockholm.

The lineup: Malin Dahlström (vocals), Gustaf Karlöf (keyboards), Magnus Böqvist (drums).

The background: There is no Niki, and there is no Dove. We don't know much more about this lot except that Malin Dahlström provides the vocals and Gustaf Karlöf writes the songs. Oh, and they told a journalist they think war is "shit" (who needs convoluted solutions to complex problems when you've got pop stars?) and one of their favourite films is Manhattan. If it had been the Woody Allen movie before that one, the Ingmar Bergman-inspired Interiors from 1978, it would have made more sense – if the Swedish director were alive and making a film that required a soundtrack connoting icy ennui, this lot would surely be top of his wish list. Dahlström's voice has a strident, even stentorian quality, similar to female singers from Siouxsie to Florence, Hazel O'Connor to Natasha Kahn, artists who seek to bring a cool theatricality to their music, plus a flourish of witchy darkness and goth disdain.

Disdain for what? Well, that's the beauty of goth-tinged electro-pop, where the adage "the oblique shall inherit the earth" applies. You don't need to know, and probably they don't want you to know. Hence the lack of information and the YouTube videos featuring women working out in a gym. Graphic, literal representations of Niki and the Dove's music they are not. But that's one of the benefits of singing in a foreign tongue – you can hide behind language.

Today, meaning takes a back seat to effect. Niki and the Dove's music is powerful but not overwhelmingly so. It's not oppressive. This is goth with one eye on the charts: nearly every article written about them so far has alluded to the music's commerciality and referenced the Eurovision song contest, suggesting that Niki and the Dove bring a Eurovisonary pop sensibility to a genre normally associated with booming percussion and a textural richness that can detract from the song. In fact, there are heavy rhythms here, and the sort of sound effects you might hear on a "leftfield" record, but there is also a lightness of touch that keeps things brisk and bouncing. The single DJ, Ease My Mind places Dahlström and Co between the nu-goth of Zola Jesus and the Florence/Clare Maguire soul-b(l)aring crowd, while the percussive electronica of the song's second half has a cool fury of its own. On Winterheart she sounds younger, like an angry Clare Grogan. Best of all, though, is forthcoming single Mother Project, which isn't goth or dark at all. A brilliant tune, it moves at a similarly glacial pace to Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill and, with its faux-vinyl scratchy groove and panpipes, is in reach of that pop pinnacle's quasi-religious rapture and mystical allure. The key change towards the end is … seismic. The bleak don't inherit the earth. The optimists do.

The buzz: "In an alternate universe, Under the Bridges is Sweden's definitive entry to the Eurovision song contest" – The Line of Best Fit.

The truth: Sweden: 20 points!

Most likely to: Work its magic.

Least likely to: Work out.

What to buy: Double A-side Under the Bridges/DJ, Ease My Mind is out now on Moshi Moshi Singles Club.

File next to: Zola Jesus, Bat for Lashes, Karin Dreijer Andersson, Paper Crows.


Monday's new band: Selebrities.


Paul Lester

The GuardianTramp

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