Ever wonder what would happen if someone locked Avant & Bloodshy, the Swedish producers of Britney Spears' Toxic, and Andrew Wyatt, a singer-songwriter who co-wrote a chunk of Daniel Merriweather's album, in a room together? Probably not, but here they are - complete with a brilliant name, inspired by maverick Japanese film-maker Takashi Miike. Coupled with a calling card in the form of slick, catchy single Animal, a sweeping sing-along built over a rolling piano line and live drums, the trio have attracted plenty of attention.
It's a cliché to assume all music coming out of Scandinavia (and, arguably, bands with Snow in their name) will carry an air of cool detachment, but Song For No One, a dreamy little pop song with charm to spare features an almost tropical hook and proves that, like their famous (infamous?) namesake, this disparate group can't be pigeonholed easily. The director is also somwhat notorious for being inconsistent though and once again the band prove themselves likewise, not managing to keep this level of quality up over the course of their 45-minute full length. Current single Black & Blue is pleasant enough but grates on the nerves far more than it should, a result of a pretty duff chorus being matched up with mundane lyrics to pull the rug from under the cute, bubbling synth backing. Miike Snow have been blessed with some comparisons to Animal Collective, but the truth is they're a long way away from being able to make the workaday as mesmerising as their American counterparts did to such startling effect on this year's Merriweather Post Pavilion.
One thing MS are able to pull off extremely well though is minimalism, most notably on the spare, haunting ballad In Search Of and small-scale epic A Horse Is Not A Home, an album highlight. An uplifting turn from Wyatt on the latter elevates the house-tinged track above the rest of the pack, as elsewhere his vocals occasionally come across as a little too serious, po-faced and, dare I say it, dull. The decision to cut loose a little really shows off the strength of his voice. Cult Logic follows immediately on the tracklist and is cut from a similar cloth, with the dance-orientated direction of the tracks brilliantly showcasing the strengths of the three talents. It's little surprise then that a wealth of fashionable remixers have been all over their singles, with the likes of Crookers and Tiga transforming Animal and Black & Blue into club-ready anthems. It's the slightly tepid likes of Burial and Silvia that are in more drastic need of reworks though, a pair of completely flat duds that kill the momentum of the album early on, a blow from which is struggles to recover.
The striking silhouette of a jackalope, a legendary animal with the body of a rabbit and antlers of an antelope, adorns the covers of the band's singles and album. The strange little hybrid is a signpost to the band's blending of indie, pop and electronica, but somewhere along the line the recipe went awry. A little more of Britney's oomph and a little less of Merriweather's dreary drone would improve things tenfold.