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

Contributor

Rosie Swash

The GuardianTramp

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