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This review first appeared in The Fly on 18/10/12

Koko’s small-but-tall balconies are already filling up by the time Niki & The Dove– aka Gustaf Karlöf and Malin Dahlström – take to the stage. One music journo has already gleefully wedged a large poster down his trousers, unaware that these will be given away at the end of the night anyway.

Looking immediately striking and somehow demure with it, the duo’s appearance is suggestive of the mood tonight. Throughout their set Gustaf and Malin deliver music that is instant in its opulence and beauty while retaining depth all the while. The set opens with ‘Mother Protect’, one of their earliest songs, an experimental crash of thunder and panpipes rocketing through the room. From moments of crumbling despair (beautiful though they are) there are dollops of theatricality; both ‘The Fox’ and closer ‘DJ Ease My Mind’ are steeped in mythology; stories told through the medium of clattering percussion and winding, sinewy lyrics. It’s pop-faced paganism, evocative, complex and sometimes silly.

There is something precious in this fleeting glimpse of Niki & The Dove partly because the trend of Girl Name & The Noun has unfortunately let bands like this fall into the cracks of people’s misconceptions. Did they expect a sassy female soloist with glitter frothing from her lips? A pair with a penchant for ponchos and kissing Mother Earth? Gustaf and Malin are a team – a formidable twosome with enough kinesis in their bellowing, sparkling pop to shatter every preconceived notion about them. And there isn’t a dove in sight.

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