By Erika Harwood, Daily Arts Writer
Published September 24, 2013
Do they still not care? Do they still love it? These are the questions we hope to unpack during Swedish pop duo Icona Pop’s sophomore album, This Is... Icona Pop. Coming from the nation that has become synonymous with cranking out dance-pop hits (see: Robyn, Bloodshy & Avant, Avicii and then Robyn again), Icona Pop seems destined for superstardom solely based on its birth certificates. Unfortunately, the group needs more than a sheet of government documentation to produce a great pop album, which may be why This is... consists primarily of filler tracks only worthwhile for thrusting college kids in fraternity basements.
This Is... Icona Pop
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By now, the album’s opening track, “I Love It,” has been heard for months by way of a variety of platforms (radio, commercials, on repeat in your brain for days just because), and it’s no wonder: pulsating synths, simple, shout-sung lyrics and an in-your-face chorus that asserts, “I don’t care / I love it.” The world eats that sort of thing up like free samples at Costco. Despite the powerhouse single and album opener, this also marks the beginning of the album’s consistent fizzle into dull, vanilla pop, as well as your own growing concern of why they’re still yelling at you five tracks deep. Just so it’s clear: The sing-shouting is a not-so-subtle theme throughout.
Laced with winding synths, tracks like “All Night” and “Ready for the Weekend” come across as typical party songs no one would be able to discern against the dubstep menagerie of a drunk disc jockey’s playlist. While This Is... doesn’t claim to be any more than a fun pop album and would clearly be the wrong place to search for any profound lyricism, tired pop clichés of smashing the club and not sleeping because this party is paradise force songs like “All Night” to get displaced among the thousands of OK dance-pop songs we hear during our lives and most likely forget about the following morning.
“Girlfriend” begins with yet another pop trope of “Na na nas” paired with an indiscriminate beat while they assert that all they need in this life is “me and my girlfriend / me and my girlfriend.” The album ends with “Then We Kiss,” a hyper-glossy track which comes off more as a laundry list of nouns than actual lyrics: “daylight, to nighttime, to sunrise, to your eyes, to my eyes, to your lips, to my lips, to your hips, to our hips ...” The album ends abruptly with what is arguably its worst song. It leaves listeners unfulfilled and unsatisfied with a touch of confused.
Not to say This Is... is without a few decently catchy tracks. “In The Stars” provides a much more laid-back, yet still danceable alternative to the pounding, über-pop that fills the rest of the album, while “We Are the World” builds into the most well-crafted hit behind “I Love It.” These songs have what the rest lack: the distinct and thought-out differences between each verse, bridge and chorus, giving you something different to look forward to and eventually enjoy. Most of the album struggles to follow this method throughout and instead throws every dance beat and yell-able lyric out there. In the end, it seems like Icona Pop still doesn’t care, but unfortunately, I don’t love it.