Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine: TOC | Miike Snow
In•die \ in-dee \ adj + El•ec•tro \el-ek-tro \ n
The chorus on Miike Snow’s single, “Animal,” best introduces this band of superproducers in disguise. “I change shapes just to hide in this place, but I’m still, I’m still an animal,” sings New York’s Andrew Wyatt. At 18, Wyatt, also of Fires of Rome, was gallivanting in obscurity with Greg Kurstin (of the Bird and the Bee and Lily Allen fame). Now he’s penning tracks with Amy Winehouse’s producer Mark Ronson.
While their names don’t spark instant recognition, Wyatt’s Miike Snow cohorts, Stockholm-based producers Pontus Winnberg and Christian Karlsson, a.k.a. Bloodshy & Avant, have been churning out chart toppers for pop divas since 2000. They won a Grammy, in 2004, for “Toxic,” arguably Britney’s brightest moment.
These bigwigs have hidden in plain sight their whole professional lives. “Animal” suggests there’s still reluctance to step into the spotlight. Or perhaps it hints at the unveiling of these shape-shifters and what they can do when left to their own devices.
That’s the impression we get, anyway. The 11-track debut skips through a sophisticated blend of sugary piano lines, snappy drums, sunshine pop and the infectiously danceable bounce perfected by Winnberg and Karlsson, lifting Wyatt’s wistful songwriting up by its bootstraps. If you don’t listen closely, you won’t even notice the melancholy references to funerals on “Burial,” lost love on “Song for No One” and emotional beat downs on “Black and Blue.” Sometimes schizo, always engaging, Miike Snow knows how to work the system: Pay the dues, score the freedom and make it count.
- Joshua P. Ferguson