A greater leap forwards than we could have expected the trio to make.
John Aizlewood 2012
There was always something contrived about Miike Snow beyond their annoying name, a part-tribute to maverick Japanese film director Takashi Miike. Perhaps it was that they seemed to be a side-project studio collaboration between a couple of Swedes who'd bashed out hits for Britney Spears (including the mighty Toxic) and an American chum of Mark Ronson. That their self-titled debut album was a fluffy, albeit highly enjoyable, piece of dancey fun hardly assuaged the doubts that Miike Snow were merely an audio business card, existing primarily for its members to secure more remixing and writing work.
Then, something odd happened. Seemingly taken over by the sheer giddiness of being Miike Snow, the threesome toured the world like men possessed (or at least like a bog-standard rock band), playing venues small to medium as well as festivals. They seemed to have found their calling. Unsurprisingly, this breathless sense of surprised joy underpins their appositely titled second album. Indeed, were there a poll for Nicest Album of 2012, it would be hard to see too far beyond Happy to You.
Infinitely more coherent and infinitely more innovatively produced than the debut, Happy to You is a bold, brassy (literally on The Devil's Work) statement of intent. It's full of tips of the hat to all sorts of unlikely sources, from Enter The Jokers Lair threatening to break into Argentine Melody (Cancion de Argentina), Rod Argent's 1978 World Cup theme, to Vase's homage to The Cure's Close to You, via The Devil's Work introducing itself in the stentorian manner of Foreigner's Cold as Ice.
Lovingly crafted slivers of inspiration abound. The ever-welcome Lykke Li pops up with a haunting vocal on the epically distorted Black Tin Box, which merges twiddly synthesisers with Nine Inch Nails-esque percussion, while the baroque keyboards which suddenly lurch into Pretender offer a moment of scarf-waving impishness.
Right now, they may desperately need the hit which will propel them into the mainstream, but Miike Snow are in a better place then they even they could have expected and Happy to You is a greater leap forwards than we could have expected them to make. It's a delight.