Wednesday, April 26, 2017

MIIKE SNOW-Happy To You: The Jackalope Deluxe Edition (2012)


There are so many artists that I want to reconnect or further my listening explorations with, and with the 80's synthpop sound having sparked my music interests lately, I felt it was time for Round 2 with this Swedish electronic/indie rock band I've had the unexpected pleasure of becoming attached to. A brief yet interesting recap on how I got hip to MIIKE SNOW in the first place: my wandering, always-nostalgic and sometimes rather quirky mind occasionally digs up things I learned from elementary and middle school, and for some unknown reason that I've still yet to figure out, the historic Mongolian ruler Genghis Khan popped up into my mind. Out of curiosity, I wondered if someone had ever recorded a song about the founder of the Mongol Empire, which then led to a quick Google search and, ultimately, an actual real song called "Genghis Khan"—a remix, no less!—by this Swedish band whom I'm giving the spotlight to for the second time. That said song, I've since found out, appears on MIIKE SNOW's third album, but not yet wanting to jump too far ahead with my listening to their music, I've elected to continue going in chronological order, bringing me now to discuss this special edition of their sophomore release. I can immediately say that it will require just about as many listens of "Happy To You" as their self-titled debut did before I totally understand the meanings behind the lyrics to a lot of these songs.....and that was a lot of listens! One time through definitely won't be enough—if not for grasping the symbolism of the lyrics and their equally cryptic titles, then for re-immersing myself in the wonderful synthesized electronic arrangements that the instrumental music lover in me fell victim to once again! In fact, there is at least one distinctive element on every song that struck me. With the opener, "Enter The Jokers Lair", it's the long, drawn-out 8-bit video game-inspired drones that remind me of something straight out of the classic Super Nintendo game, "Super Mario World". On "The Wave", it's the tasty trio of the keyboard, the pounding bass and the marching drum beat, with the light, lofty voice of lead singer Andrew Wyatt repeating the words 'stirring up the wave' finding a way to get me hooked. "Devil's Work" becomes devilishly good when the arrangement shifts to an almost Eurodance style rhythm in the latter half of each pass of the chorus. "Vase" (I like how he says 'vahz' instead of the pronunciation I'm more accustomed to) charms with Wyatt's lofty vocals delivering the super-catchy 'la la la la la' against the warming chords of the high-pitched tones following the main chorus; I'd even classify this one as a sort of electronic chill-out session. Chilled is right—I found myself getting lost in the melody and the music of "God Help This Divorce", which is one song in particular here whose lyrics I must pay closer attention to the next few times around because its excellent presentation deserves it. I must have a thing for looping chorus lyrics, because I also got hooked to the repetitive 'say you will' on this album's sixth track—that, plus the 'whistle melody' and the rest of the electronically synthesized glitz. "Archipelago": never in my life did I think I would ever hear a song with this title that describes a group of three islands clustered together (or is my memory of geography and social studies class eluding me?). I love the production work here: the indie pop/rock rhythm, the flashy ragtime-style arrangement of the keyboards, the downtempo faded grooves adding an ambient texture..... Meanwhile, I could only gather up something about the Ice Age and road rage from the lyrics, but there's much more happening on this song than that. "Black Tin Box": another curiously-titled song that talks about jewelry before somehow progressing to black sheep, which made me think about that old familiar English nursery rhyme, "Baa Baa, Black Sheep" ('have you any wool?, yes sir, yes sir, three bags full.....'). Possibly this album's best jam is the lively dance extreme that is "Padding Out". 'You say, is it hard, padding it out, padding it out' easily comprise THE catchiest hook on this whole album, and I applaud them for creating several extended dance remixes of it on the second CD. Speaking of which, that extra part of the package contains a pair of bonus tunes: "No Starry World" and "Garden". A smile of appreciation I had for the latter, considering I'm a gardener and have an overall appreciation for nature and the outdoors. Yet like the other tunes, the lyrics to this one too got me caught up in a shroud of perplexing obscurity, especially the line of ' someday, we'll be eyes in the garden '. Perhaps we will, but for now, all eyes are on "Happy To You", and the music here should make you happy indeed:

CD #1

1. Enters The Jokers Lair
2. The Wave
3. Devil's Work
4. Vase
5. God Help This Divorce
6. Bavarian #1 (Say You Will)
7. Pretender
8. Archipelago
9. Black Tin Box
10. Padding Out

CD #2

1. Garden
2. No Starry World
3. Devil's Work (Alex Metric Remix)
4. Paddling Out (Wolfgang Gartner Remix)
5. Paddling Out (Carli Remix)
6. The Wave (Style of Eye Remix)
7. Paddling Out (Jacques Lu Cont Remix)

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