One to watch: Niki and the Dove

Creators of sinister dance-pop, this enigmatic Swedish duo move and groove in mysterious ways

Whether it's the glacially paced techno of Fever Ray, the drum-banging pagan pop of Bat for Lashes or the cultivated ethereality of Florence + the Machine, the fashion for evoking a sense of the otherworldly among today's crop of female pop stars is one that shows no sign of slackening.

With Niki and the Dove, this is evident not simply in their own particular brand of strident, sinister dance-pop, but also in the mysterious way in which they behave when interviewed. "We are Niki and the Dove and we are two people in a band," explains delightfully coquettish singer Malin Dahlström. But this is about as far as we get. Dahlström declines, amid polite giggles, to tell me how old she is, or the age of her bandmate and fellow Swede Gustaf Karlöf, or the meaning behind the band's name. She does admit to pursuing "a vision of deep dark woods that I want to put into the music", but hands over to Karlöf before making any attempt at further elaboration.

The songwriter of the two, he reveals that they met in January 2010 and bonded over "love, life and everything... but not hockey!" Musically, he points to "Stravinsky, jazz, Eurovision... anything that captures something mystical that you can't explain" as inspiration. "About five years ago I was obsessed with minimalist dance music, particularly Japanese, but now I'm more interested in the perfect pop song," he adds.

The pair also share a history of composing music for performance theatre, I succeed in gleaning, and an element of drama has made its way into their sound. Debut single "DJ, Ease My Mind" mixes oblivion-seeking sentiment ("I want lights to blind me... I want to disappear") with the gradual expansion of a minacious bassline.

Equally thrilling is "Mother Protect", with Dahlström snarling a series of non-sequiturs: "My heart is an eagle, I love to fall from the sky..." In keeping with the smoke and mirrors, her meaning isn't clear, but it's still somehow utterly gripping.

A new single and a tour are due in April


Rosie Swash

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: Ronika

Nottingham's take on Madonna draws from multiple genres to create her singular style of glamorous homespun disco, writes Michael Cragg

Michael Cragg

23, May, 2014 @10:05 AM

Article image
One to watch: Grimes
Canadian musician Grimes tells Hermione Hoby how the internet, amphetamine and total seclusion inspired her eclectic new album

Hermione Hoby

29, Jan, 2012 @12:06 AM

Article image
One to watch: Torres
After a low-key debut, the US singer is back with a candid new album that revisits the darker side of her Baptist upbringing

Laura Snapes

25, Apr, 2015 @5:00 PM

Article image
One to watch: Daughter

The spooky pop three-piece talk to Tom Lamont about playing for David Letterman – and why they don't try too hard to be heard

Tom Lamont

24, Feb, 2013 @12:04 AM

Article image
One to watch: Sam Smith

This soulful 21-year-old, guest vocalist on hits by Disclosure and Naughty Boy, talks to Tom Lamont

Tom Lamont

22, Nov, 2013 @12:18 PM

Article image
One to watch: Cat's Eyes
After playing their debut gig at St Peter's in Rome, the only way is up for the Horrors singer and his soprano sidekick, writes Gareth Grundy

Gareth Grundy

27, Feb, 2011 @12:02 AM

Article image
One to watch: My Tiger My Timing
The London alt-pop five-piece talk to Gemma Kappala-Ramsamy about setting up their own label and keeping the rock-star cliches in check

Gemma Kappala-Ramsamy

23, Jun, 2012 @11:05 PM

Article image
One to watch: Kiesza

The Canadian-born singer abandoned a nautical career to create the massive chart-topping pop hit Hideaway, writes Michael Cragg

Michael Cragg

26, Apr, 2014 @11:05 PM

Article image
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