The songs presented on this album are not terrible by any means, but they tend to be formulaic in nature. The first two singles from the album, “Girlfriend” and “All Night,” seem to be an attempt to recreate the overwhelming power of “I Love It.” With positive lyrics and irresistible electronic dance beats (plus a little help from Tupac Shakur’s “Me and My Girlfriend” on “Girlfriend”), both tracks could potentially achieve the same commercial success as “I Love It” if promoted correctly. These two singles along with three previously released tracks (including the euphoric synth-pop masterpiece “We Got The World”) are essential Icona Pop, even if it feels like we’ve heard it all before.
ALBUM REVIEW: Icona Pop – This Is… Icona Pop
Last fall, Swedish duo, Icona Pop, released their debut self-titled album, but no one in America could buy it. Sure, the Iconic EP was released in the U.S. and contained some of the full-length album’s best tracks, but it just was not the same. It wasn’t until Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham) did some coke (“for research”) and shamelessly danced to “I Love It” in a yellow mesh top on an episode of Girls, that Americans really became obsessed with Icona Pop. However, sometimes obsession can be a curse, especially when it comes to releasing music in a foreign country. This Is…Icona Pop may have enough hits to rival “I Love It” and make the American fans happy, but it still lacks the pure pop magic of its predecessor.
Some artists create music without thinking of who may hear it, while others seem to create music that they think will sell or fit into a certain pocket of the music industry. In David Byrne’s book, How Music Works, he states that musicians “work backward, either consciously or unconsciously, creating work that fits the venue available to us,” and after listening to This Is…, it seems as though that is exactly what Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo have done.
While the first half of This Is… may seem like five slightly different versions of “I Love It,” the second half makes an attempt to change it up. “Just Another Night” shows off a more emotional side of the duo, and proves that simplicity can be just as powerful as screaming about crashing a car. It may not have the instant appeal that a strong track like “Ready For The Weekend” may have, but fans of Hjelt and Jawo will appreciate this break from the constant party.
This Is… may seem more manufactured and less sincere than Icona Pop, but this is what we asked for. Most American fans of Icona Pop will not care that the majority of the album sounds like what they’ve heard before, because they will still love it anyway. What This Is… lacks in originality, it makes up for in intelligence. Icona Pop and their co-writers (Charli XCX and Tove Lo) are some of pop’s best visionaries, because they know what their listeners want to hear. This album may have been made to “fit a venue,” but it’s a place that no one can fill quite like Icona Pop can. Just ask Lena Dunham.
Lauren Mahaffy is a Syracuse, NY native and a recent graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in music business. As much as she would love to be in LA eating burgers at In-N-Out and working at a record label, she is currently spending some time at home with her dog, Princess Sparkle. When she is not job hunting, she can be found binge-watching TV shows on Netflix, posting funny gifs on Tumblr, and singing Miley Cyrus songs in the car. Read her embarrassing tweets @laurenmahaffy