“Instinct” – Niki and the Dove

4 stars (out of 5)

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Product DetailsNiki  & The Dove have been around for over 2 years now and I have managed, more or less, to ignore them because I wanted to wait until they had an album’s worth of material to get lost in; they looked like they would be that kind of duo. Too often over the last 8 years or so an artist has appeared on line with something that’s tickled my fancy and I’ve followed them on, firstly, My Space (remember?) and then FaceBook and now Soundcloud and it’s become an exhausting and sometimes depressing job with some magnificent rewards (Cocknbullkid, The Bird and The Bee, Lily Allen) and some less so (3 years and counting Sky Ferreira). So apart from the frantic ‘The Drummer’ this is all fresh material for me from an album where apart from 2 songs, every track has already been released in some form or another.

Originating from Stockholm, album opener ‘Tomorrow’ does sound very much like fellow Swedes The Knife in one of their more accessible moods but things take a far more impressive and dramatic ‘musical theatre’ turn on the multiple, overlapping nightmare nursery rhymes of ‘The Gentle Roar’ continuing with Malin Dahlstrom exploding with anger on the ‘You can’t keep me down, I am done, I am furious!’ line from ‘Mother Protect’; tread carefully and don’t disturb her young seems to be the very clear message and I wouldn’t dare.

From here on in things start to go down a distinctly purple road (lyrically even; a ‘purple sky’ is referred to on ‘The Fox’) with the mid tempo ‘Last Night‘ with its ‘last night we got married in a taxi’ line and the woozy, fuzzy synth line that doodles around for the final minute or so this could have come from Prince’s 1999 album and the euphoric, fizzing ‘Somebody’ could fit in the Purple Rain soundtrack without sounding out of place. Prince’s influence in contemporary music is now omnipresent (The-Dream has made a career out of it) but Niki and The Dove are not mere Vanity 6 copy cats with a line in hipster irony, instead they understand those pure musical moments that defined Prince’s most scintillating and relevant periods.

Maybe the biggest song here, and there are a fair few, is the deeply melancholic and aching slab of trance house ‘DJ, Ease My Mind’; tears on the dance floor and looking for salvation, it’s been done countless times before and this is an example of how to do it right.  Devastating stuff. ‘The Fox’ and ‘Under The Bridges’ finish the album in an appropriately feral, uncompromising and chaotic style, melodically and musically, and I for one welcome these elements and the others contained in this balmy and beautiful début with open arms.