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This Is… Icona Pop

Icona Pop – 'This Is… Icona Pop' album review

Not bad, but the Swedish duo sell themselves short in the name of pop music

By Nick Levine
Icona Pop’s summer chart-topper ‘I Love It’ is a brilliant pop single: instantly thrilling, totally distinctive and a little bit edgy. (For better or worse, hearing the word ‘bitch’ in a pop song still feels titillating – just ask Britney Spears.) The problem now for this likeable Swedish duo is following it up, and – perhaps inevitably – their worldwide debut album contains nothing else quite as undeniable.

In trying to find that all-important second hit single, Icona Pop have essentially turned themselves into an EDM-era version of Shampoo (‘Uh oh... we’re in trouble!’). After ‘I Love It’, which opens the album, the next six tracks are an onslaught of shouty vocals, pounding beats and churning synth sounds familiar from recent David Guetta and Calvin Harris hits. Some of these tunes are a lot of fun, especially ‘On a Roll’ with its ‘Tom’s Diner’-style ‘do-do-do’ vocal hook, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that Icona Pop have reduced themselves slightly. The duo actually released a debut album with a very different tracklisting in Sweden last year, and it contained a much wider and more interesting palette of pop sounds.

To be fair, towards the end ‘This Is... Icona Pop’ does chuck in a few more subdued tunes like the Journey-influenced power ballad ‘Just One Night’, before ending with the brilliant ‘Then We Kiss’, which sounds like an old new wave hit on MDMA. ‘Then We Kiss’ isn’t massively different from the tracks at the start of the album, but it tweaks the formula in a clever and unexpected way. If ‘This Is... Icona Pop’ had tried this more often, it could have been the total blast of a pop album that it clearly wants to be. Buy this album here

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