Icona Pop’s “I Love It” is 165 seconds of pop-house perfection—big, brassy, thumping, alternately sawing and soaring, an absolute shining jewel of what a dance anthem can sound like. It’s a dopamine release system that all but demands that you bum-rush your way into the nearest superclub in exultant joy. Like Robyn, another act that inspires similar spontaneous expressions of hip-shaking elation, Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt are from Sweden. If their U.S. debut, This Is…Icona Pop, doesn’t possess the breathtaking scope and maturity of Body Talk, that’s okay. Jawo and Hjelt are roughly half Robyn’s age, and if success doesn’t sour their gift for sugary, fist-pumping sing-alongs, they surely have a like-minded long player of unequivocal genius in them too.
This Is… isn’t that album, but it’s still a damn good time. “Just Another Night” is reminiscent of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” and “Dancing on My Own,” but with enough pop thrills and genuine yearning of its own not to seem like a cheap facsimile of those singles. “All Night” squeezes every drop of juice out of the empty genre tricks that make most songs of its kind such a chore, repurposing that omnipresent engine-revving-down sound to actually enhance the melody rather than toss cold water on it for dumb effect. “In the Stars” slows the beat, but loses none of the power, imagining Girls Aloud crossbred with Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts-era M83 to stunningly lovely effect, while “Then We Kiss” and “On a Roll” give ’80s new wave and early-aughts electroclash a Pro-Tools spit shine and big, shouty choruses.
For the most part, Icona Pop’s lyrics veer toward the “party all night” inanity that’s been the stock and trade of countless teen idols before them, making the album’s more colorless songs, like “Girlfriend,” seem like EDM written and performed by anthropomorphic Bratz dolls. Yet while most of the concerns expressed in This Is… seem wafer-thin, the innovative production and diamond-hard songcraft suggest something else entirely. Icona Pop has few equals in the current landscape when it comes to immaculately crafted radio-dance music.