Niki and the Dove

“The Fox” – Niki and the Dove

At once sludgy and resplendent, “The Fox” thunders and sparkles, blending darkness and light in a most uncommon and indelible way. Rock’n’roll advances rarely via the bolts from the blue most critics and bloggers seem to demand, much more often through absorption, and there is something in “The Fox” that reverberates with a number of classic influences, from Kate Bush (the fox reference is just part of it) and Siouxsie Sioux and Björk to David Bowie and Radiohead. This is good stuff. Theatrical too. Equal effort is paid here to catch the ear—to be “pop,” essentially—and to challenge it. Check out that abrupt segue between the lighthearted glissando that opens the song and the chunky, lagging, deep-voiced guitar (or guitar-like sound; no guitarist is associated with the band) it bumps into. That’s part of what the whole piece is about—interesting, off-kilter, carefully constructed musical moments, hung onto a sturdy framework of melodic and synthetic know-how. The song has great flow—it really pulls me in—and yet nearly any slice of it, all the way through, has its own singular DNA. Did I mention this is really good stuff?

Niki and the Dove is a Stockholm duo, featuring Malin Dahlström and Gustaf Karlöf, founded in February 2010. There have been no albums released to date; the band, furthermore, seems inclined to mystery and minimal information. What can be said is that they signed with Sub Pop in March, and “The Fox” is the first Sub Pop single. While the label is coy about it, there does appear to be an EP—also entitled The Fox —on the way in June.