Kaleidoscopic in the studio and a force majeure on stage, it's no surprise that Niki & The Dove's Malin Dahlström (vocals) and Gustaf Karlöf (keyboards) met while writing music for the theatre. While their roots are in theatre (and their live show includes three drummers, a bassist and two dancers flanking Malin's costumed, exuberant presence), they ultimately straddle the pop and dance worlds with devastating pop music that incorporates electronics and beats spanning from tribal to synth-pop to R&B. It is a riddle to work out exactly what the pair are as it should be. In our heart, we are a soul band, not even an electronic band, says Malin.
Niki & The Dove s pop and dance sides are both evident from the very first moments of Instinct, their debut album, as the opening track Tomorrow unfolds a subtle pulse with pan-Pacific textures underneath Malin s aching vocal, rising to a series of euphoric peaks as the vocals ramp up the feeling of a tribal ceremony. This was also the case with DJ, Ease My Mind, the duo s debut single released in February 2010. Malin s vocal has the urgency and vulnerability of epic 60s girl-group pop (The Shangri La's, say) fused to Niki & The Dove's unique version of joyful dance-floor release. Time and again, Instinct follows the same blueprint of intent a blend of tenderness, explosion, hypnosis and exhilaration - but never the same routine. Instinct is an exhilarating experience, like stepping into a piece of art.
Is expectation calling on Niki & The Dove, now that they are receiving international acclaim, including 5th place in the BBC Sound Of 2012 poll? Not in their minds. It s wonderful, an extremely big honour, and also unreal, Gustaf concludes. But we just make the music that we want to, and never compromise, so no pressure. It's not like we can change anything anyway. Not yet anyway!