But it’s Icona Pop’s huge international success that has really given us a warm glow of satisfaction in 2013. We made their brilliant I Love It our single of 2012 and it seems that the rest of the world shares our enthusiasm. Not only has I Love It hit the top ten in 14 countries (including the US where it has sold more than one million copies), last week it finally reached the number one spot in the UK, selling 125,000 copies in the process, an unusually high number for the UK singles chart.
So perhaps it’s fitting that our next Swedish tip for international success has connections with Icona Pop. Production duo Tobias ‘Astma’ Jimson and Michel Rocwell have previously recorded with Icona Pop but it’s their work with Stina Wäppling as part of NoNoNo for which they will be remembered.
They’ve not even had the merest whiff of chart success in their homeland but already their second single, Pumpin’ Blood, is being scheduled for late summer release by at least nine European territories all of which, according to Wäppling, are excited by its prospects. “They all seem very keen to work with us – it feels good.”
Pumpin’ Blood sounds like a hit, its pristine, crisp beats framing Wäppling’s dreamy, creamy vocals before the song is sent into stratospherically catchy territory by one of the most infectious choruses you will hear all decade. It’s surely destined to be a summer anthem.
Warning – if you hate whistling, please avoid.
NoNoNo formed in Stockholm during the spring of 2012, following Stina’s return from Brighton University in the UK where she had spent three years studying for a degree in psychology. She’d been signed by a label as a 17-year-old but had grown disillusioned.
“I had done two years of just writing with different producers and there was pressure to always be writing something that could be a hit and there were a lot of strict ways of how songs should sound. It took the fun out of it. It made me really sad and made me think I didn’t want to be a songwriter. But, these guys just encouraged creativity and for the songs not having to be a certain way – as long as you feel it and it feels good.”
“I don’t know about songwriting rules, and I didn’t go to music school,” Stina continues. “It’s more about a feeling I want to get out. Psychology has influenced me because it gives you so many tools to think about life and situations in deeper ways”. Stina now even works in a mental hospital in her spare time. “I like to have that world alongside the music, because the music industry takes itself so seriously. If you work with something really different, you get reminded that things aren’t so important, and the world won’t die if you don’t get a mega-hit.”
Judging by the early reaction to Pumpin’ Blood, it’s a reminder that Stina and the rest of NoNoNo are unlikely to need.
ALBUM OF THE MONTH
(to whom it may concern) ****
It seems a little unfair that, given the ludicrously hyperbolic welcome afforded The Knife’s rather shabby Shaking The Habitual, the release of iamamiwhoami’s magnificent second album, bounty, has been largely unheralded.
Unfair because iamamiwhoami’s main mover, Jonna Lee (who won a Swedish Grammis for innovation last year for debut album Kin), is engaged successfully in exactly the same struggle to inject fresh impetus and intelligence into electronic pop music as The Knife is.
But where The Knife preferred to obfuscate and patronize on their recent album, iamamiwhoami shine a light on their music by commissioning a suite of videos for Bounty, thus making their sparkling, radiant and downright dirty electro-pop more accessible not less.
Indeed the videos offer a real warmth to Lee’s slightly icy vocals and sometimes impenetrable lyrics. Over the course of these nine songs, Lee’s playful, sensual personality really starts to shine through. u-1 may come across like a delicately beautiful and oh-so-precious acapella Cocteau Twins track but its close cousin, u-2, is a bona-fide, foot-to-the-floor dancefloor banger, replete with a menacing video that is clearly influenced by Chris Cunningham’s promo work with Aphex Twin.
Aphex Twin – Come To Daddy
Lee’s wardrobe for these song/videos is as adventurous as the music. The extraordinary make-up alone makes Lady Gaga look about as daring as Darin. And as the album reaches its climax, the album’s themes become ever more apparent. On the low slung :john, Lee repeatedly sings “I used to be clean, now I am as filthy as can be,” while on the stupendous final song, clump, the video of which sees Lee in a state of quite obvious arousal, she breathes “Can I wait until I get my hands on you?” This is seriously sexy music. And Bounty is a seriously great album.
Terrific new album of fiddle-led folk from the reliable Eden.
Gig of the month
Emmabodafestivalen, Emmaboda, July 23rd-27th
This excellent ’boutique’ festival is the place to go for great Swedish music – acts this year include Icona Pop, Elliphant, Hastpojken, Shout-Out Louds, Kate Boy and Postiljonen.