Saturday 21 September 2013

Icona Pop - This Is...Icona Pop

A major concern with 'This Is...Icona Pop', the Swedish duo's UK debut album, is the sheer amount of time it's taken to cross the North Sea to our shores.  'Icona Pop' was originally released last year in Sweden and since then the album has morphed and evolved before seeing release here.  Would something get lost in translation?

At a glance, the track lists between the UK and Swedish versions may hint towards very different albums, yet in practice the duo's sound continues from one to the next.  Yes, the UK version drops some of the quirkier EP tracks (Sun Goes Down, Manners) in favour of formulaic tracks that follow in the wake of I Love It.  Girlfriend, for example, with its Tupac quote, seems especially tailored to English audiences.  Yet when the formula is so strong does it really matter?

So what is this formula?  On the surface, Icona Pop make pounding, in-your-face electro pop.  Shouty melodies, big beats and hugely euphoric choruses all feature heavily for a sound that sits between power pop and electro-house sliced up into neat three-minute chunks.  Throughout its eleven tracks, 'This Is...Icona Pop' is immediately appealing, infectious and relentless in its noisy, hyperactive production: from lead single I Love It, to the J-Pop feel of closer Then We Kiss.  The formulaic approach does run out of steam towards the end though, leaving tracks like Ready For The Weekend to stand out for its opening chorale, processed vocals and choppy synth samples that shake things up a little.

Dig deeper however, and there's a darkness to the lyrics that undermines the exhilarating club feel.   For all the grinding synths of I Love It, the duo angrily shout "I threw your shit in a bag and pushed it down the stairs / I crashed my car into the bridge", whilst on Girlfriend they sing of "the lights, the dirt, the shit that hurts".  The combination of music and lyrics results in a bombastic and empowering album with hints of punk that reflect a modern sense of girl power.

In an ideal world, Icona Pop will release some sort of 'special edition' album that combines both the UK and Swedish versions into one super-album.  This, sadly, is probably a pipe-dream, but in the meantime 'This Is...Icona Pop' is an essential listen for all pop fans.


Gizzle's Choice:
* We Got The World
* Ready For The Weekend
* Girlfriend

Listen: 'This Is...Icona Pop' is released on September 24th.