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The Swedish Invasion: The New Scandinavian Wave of Electro

From the now-iconic output of ABBA to the hit factories of Max Martin, Stargate and RedOne, Sweden has been synonymous with expertly-crafted pop since the late 70s. But ever since avant-garde brother-sister duo The Knife achieved widespread acclaim for their 2006 third LP, Silent Shout, it’s also become a hotbed for electro artists who manage to combine their homeland’s melodic tradition with a more forward-thinking production style.

Stockholm’s Robyn has jumped between both the pop and electronic worlds, having scored two US Top 10 hits in the mid-90s with the kind of immaculately polished pure pop that Britney Spears would perfect just a few years later, only to gradually and effortlessly reinvent herself as a self-empowering, slightly leftfield electro vixen in the 00s–scoring a global number one with “With Every Heartbeat” and picking up a Grammy nomination for Girls favorite “Dancing On My Own” in the process.

Following in her footsteps, production duo Bloodshy & Avant, who’d previously helmed records by the likes of J-Lo, Kylie Minogue and Madonna, also changed direction when they hooked up with New York vocalist Andrew Wyatt to release two albums of brilliantly warped electropop under the guise of Miike Snow. Likewise, Little Dragon’s more downbeat brand of trip-hop saw the Gothenburg quartet receive invitations to work with everyone from Gorillaz to DJ Shadow to Outkast’s Big Boi.

The otherworldly Kate Bush-esque Niki  & The Dove, the wonderfully idiosyncratic Lykke Li and runaway Eurovision Song Contest winner Loreen continued to export Sweden’s new national sound before Icona Pop famously gave it a hedonistic edge last year with the carefree YOLO juggernaut that is “I Love It.”

And the Swedish invasion shows no sign of slowing down. Postiljonen delivered one of last year’s greatest debut albums with Skyer, a stunning fusion of 80s saxophone hooks, dreamy cinematic pop and enchanting film samples. NONONO provided the soundtrack for a global mobile phone TV ad campaign with the utterly infectious whistle-led anthem “Pumpin’ Blood.” And the likes of Frida Sundemo, Tove Lo and Say Lou Lou are all tipped to break through in 2014 with their contrasting blend of bittersweet lyrics and triumphant electro-pop production.

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About the Author


Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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