With their glacial electro-pop sound and enigmatic visuals, Stockholm-based trio Kate Boy are perhaps the most likely contenders to vacate the position left by The Knife’s disbanding last November.
In fact, the group’s debut 2012 E.P., Northern Lights, shared such a similar musical DNA to Karin and Olof’s output that rumors began to surface that the now defunct duo were in fact responsible for its weird, warped and wonderful sound.
There’s little denying that the likes of “In Your Eyes,” a shadowy blend of sparse drums and haunting melodies which suddenly explodes into a wave of kaleidoscopic electro, and the general sense of menace that is “Open Fire” bear more than a passing resemblance to one of Scandinavia’s most avant-garde musical exports.
But Kate Boy’s other output proves their influences extend far beyond those of their neighbors. Written on the first night that Sydney singer-songwriter Kate Akhurst met up with the production team known as the Rocket Men (Markus Dextegen, Hampus Nordgren Hemlin) back in 2011, “Northern Lights” combines a remarkable sense of confidence (“everything we touch turns to gold”) with the kind of shouty Tumblr-pop of former labelmate Charli XCX.
The atmospheric 80s-inspired alt-pop of “Self Control” backs up the three-piece’s claims of being inspired by the likes of Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, while the shrieking cyberfunk of “The Way We Are” sounds like Niki & The Dove covering classic Janet Jackson.
Named after a fictional and androgynous fourth member intended to represent their egalitarian songwriting process, Kate Boy’s striking visual style – all spooky silhouettes, black-and-white cinematography, face-disguising outfits – also gives them a distinctive edge over their peers.
After several years of being hyped up by the likes of Pitchfork and the NME, Kate Boy appear finally ready to venture outside the blogosphere with a debut album scheduled for release later this year. Sweden’s reputation as the hotbed of forward-thinking electro-pop therefore seems assured for at least another twelve months.