Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Niki & the Dove – The Drummer

Nothing like weirdly appropriated tribalism for a video clip!


Jonathan Bogart: Stevie Nicks reincarnated as a post-techno diva. Not quite as good as that sounds, perhaps, but could anything be?

Iain Mew: The Knife’s Silent Shout is increasingly looking like one of the most influential albums of the past decade, and Niki & the Dove are up there with Austra as my favourite new band working in its image. The frenetic energy and piled up hooks of “The Drummer” take them further towards pop territory than previous singles but they still wear an enchanting weirdness lightly, not least in Malin Dahlström’s voice which doesn’t need pitch-shifting to strain at the edges of normality.

Hazel Robinson: If Bat For Lashes had beats this slick or the hipster’s command of this 80s chorus, she’d be quite a different proposition. Pseudopsychedelia and nonsense essentially on the same axis as Ke$ha but happening in very different clubs- I initially thought I was going to go for it a lot more than I did but after three minutes it was really going on a bit and her vocal mannerisms were beginning to override the coolness of the instrumental.

Brad Shoup: Thank God someone’s trying to save pop music from fun. Doesn’t matter if you’ve heard it from Fever Ray, Zola Jesus, JJ or whomever; if you’re a pop dysmorphic, uneasy with the chart corpus, this is the placebo for you.

Katherine St Asaph: If she’s a drum, she’s playing a version of Ladytron’s “Destroy Everything You Touch,” reconfigured not to stomp but to lurch and jostle its way past you and to accommodate pained, not icy vocals. Any configuration of that song has a minimum score, of course.

Zach Lyon: Happy coincidence that I get to review Tove and Niki on the same day — they’re my two favorite new acts of the year, and there isn’t a single contender for bronze. Unhappy coincidence that both of their songs today aren’t their best work, though I can’t blame anyone for loving “The Drummer.” Like their best songs, it deals in aesthetic indulgence: the bass introducing “Gentle Roar,” the electro-panflutes introducing the immense payoff of “Mother Protect,” the six-minute psycho-emotional electronic/handclap dialogue at the end of “Under the Bridges,” which sounds ridiculous, but I actually have trouble thinking about it without my eyes getting salty. This is a pop act unafraid to go for the cheap emotional win, knowing that their emotion is tied into these sounds, and they’re always hyper-aware of exactly how a sound will sprawl in your brain and live there. “The Drummer” contains this knowledge, with its chorus slammed with those powerful little blips and snares that sound entirely out of place in any Kate Bush/The Knife/Bat for Lashes song you might think they’re emulating. But for me, it doesn’t add up to something transcendent, but a bit too cynical, relative. Don’t let it deter you.

Jer Fairall: I hear Dale Bozzio where I’m probably meant to hear Kate Bush, which is cool if only because I don’t think anyone’s referenced Missing Persons this explicitly since the Smashing Pumpkins covered “Destination Unknown” some fifteen years ago.  But for a song called “The Drummer” this is oddly free of any kind of percussive pulse, sloshing thick electro glitches over the whole thing and effectively making a sloppy mess of something that should have been poised, ebullient and mysterious.

Ian Mathers: Maybe it’s just the vocal/phrasing/rhetorical similarities, but I can’t escape the feeling that this is what Kate Bush would be doing if she was starting out now. There’s at least a similar sense of drama and motion here, and a pleasingly busy production behind it. I seriously wonder whether Niki & The Dove have much staying power – I could see “The Drummer” being skillful neo-Bush pastiche leading to diminishing returns as easily as I could see it being the start of something wonderful. For now, let’s all err on the side of wonder.

2 Responses to “Niki & the Dove – The Drummer”

  1. Huh, I’m the only person who heard Ladytron in this? (There’s an equally good case that Witching Hour is one of the most influential albums of the last decade. Predates Silent Shout, even, although I doubt The Knife were influenced.)

    I did, however, also hear Kate Bush, although I didn’t say so because I have a standing (but breakable) policy against comparing anyone to Kate Bush unless it’s absolutely necessary.

  2. I’ve been trying to avoid it, but, well… as for Ladytron, I love them and Witching Hour in particular, but I’ll have to listen to this again to see whether it pops up for me.