Electrospective: Like Miike Snow? Then You’ll Love Phoenix’s “Alphabetical”
Elektro joins EMI in celebrating its Electrospective series, which pays homage to electronic music’s storied history and deep roots. We have combed through EMI’s massive 600-plus album catalog to pick out the best electronic music from years past; each week, we recommend classic albums that will open your eyes to the place of today’s stars in electronic music’s long timeline.
Miike Snow is the the so-called “three-headed band with the one-man name.” The indie-pop group is comprised of Swedish production duo Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg, also known as Bloodshy & Avant, along with American singer Andrew Wyatt. The trio has mastered a tough pop balancing act – the push-pull of emotionally resonant, elegant vocals and electronically-driven yet artful beats – a feat proven by fans’ enduring attachment to debut singles “Animal” and “Black & Blue.” Miike Snow’s second album, this year’s Happy To You, offered more of the same… in the best way possible. “Devil’s Work” and “Black Tin Box” were more forelorn than, say, the singalong chorus of “Animal,” but showed a more thoughtful side to the group. In addition to being an excellent album in its own right, Happy To You is easily one of 2012′s most remixed albums, with Dirty South, Thomas Gold, Wolfgang Gartner and others offering up their own takes on Miike Snow’s music.
While you may not hear a Phoenix remix at a festival main stage, the French group specializes in the same synth-pop-meets-indie-rock formula of Miike Snow. The six-piece group centers partially around singer Thomas Mars, whose smooth, effortless vocals manage to have not a hint of French accent. Through Mars’ lyrics and delivery, 2004′s Alphabetical takes the listener on an emotional ride: the first single “Everything Is Everything” has a sense of general hopelessness makes it widely relatable; the flirtatious vibes of “Holdin’ On Together; and the devil-may-care attitude behind “I’m An Actor.”
But there’s stellar production work to be found on Alphabetical too. Our favorite is “Victim of the Crime,” whose guitar melody is inspired by – we swear – Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “Still D.R.E.” By the track ends, dissolving into a loud flurry of drums, you probably won’t know what hit you, but will feel compelled to play the song again. Eight years later, and we’re still doing the same.