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.

Links: myspace.com/nikiandthedove

Monday's new band: Selebrities.

Contributor

Paul Lester

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Niki and the Dove – review

Only three times during their nine-song set do Niki and the Dove stumble upon an actual melody, writes Michael Hann

Michael Hann

17, Feb, 2012 @6:15 PM

Article image
One to watch: Niki and the Dove
Creators of sinister dance-pop, this enigmatic Swedish duo move and groove in mysterious ways, says Rosie Swash

Rosie Swash

30, Jan, 2011 @12:06 AM

New music: Niki and the Dove – Taylor

Michael Cragg: The Swedes forsake the kitchen sink for a slice of exquisite sadness from their debut album

Michael Cragg

02, May, 2012 @11:24 AM

New music: Niki and the Dove – Mother Protect

Michael Cragg: Ever wondered what the Knife would sound like on Eurovision? This trio's pop experiments are as close as you're likely to get ...

Michael Cragg

09, Nov, 2010 @4:24 PM

Niki & the Dove: Instinct – review
The debut album from this Swedish duo goes all in for the ethereal vocals and layered vocals, and very good it is too, writes Rebecca Nicholson

Rebecca Nicholson

10, May, 2012 @9:45 PM

Niki and the Dove: Instinct – review

This engrossing debut, full of big drums and vocal abandon, should be a big hit, says Kitty Empire. But have we heard too much of it already?

Kitty Empire

12, May, 2012 @11:03 PM

Article image
Niki & The Dove explore the woods and desert in search of perfect pop

Gothenburg dance duo Gustaf Karlöf and Malin Dahlström met making music for the theatre … and it shows

Michael Cragg

14, Oct, 2011 @11:02 PM

Article image
Emeli Sandé and the women making darkside pop

Mainstream music has a new bleakness and female artists and songwriters are leading the way. Paul Lester asks some of them how it got so dark in here

Paul Lester

01, Sep, 2011 @8:39 PM

Article image
Open thread: What are you listening to?

Adam Boult: Tell us what music you've been enjoying recently, and listen to some recommendations

Adam Boult

19, Oct, 2011 @12:01 PM

Lovebox festival: day three - in pictures

Grace Jones, Lana Del Rey and still more salacious on the third day of the east London festival

18, Jun, 2012 @2:13 PM