Icona Pop

This Is... Icona Pop

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Icona Pop struck gold with "I Love It," a single with so much staying power that it took almost two years to reach saturation on the airwaves and charts. The song's slow ascent allowed Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt the time they needed to craft an album with a similar mix of instant impact and staying power. The Iconic EP showed promise, but also suggested Hjelt and Jawo hadn't completely developed their approach outside of their massive single. They don't quite match their flirtatiously bratty calling card on the rest of This Is…Icona Pop either, but the duo sounds more confident and natural channeling that fun-loving attitude -- which feels more real than the sass of so many other pop wannabes -- into an album of EDM-tinged pop with brassy vocals. These songs make the most of Icona Pop's unique status as a female duo, something of a rarity in the 2010s pop landscape. Jawo and Hjelt split up the vocal duties evenly, and at times their mischievous, us-against-the world persona evokes past duos like Shampoo and T.A.T.U., especially on songs like "Girlfriend," which also recalls Katy Perry in its empowering feel and soaring melody (elsewhere, the oddly idealistic party anthem "We Got the World" could be a Euro-pop version of Ke$ha). Throughout This Is…Icona Pop, the duo lives up to the second half of its name; no song lasts longer than three-and-a-half minutes, and they're all packed with huge, often shouted, choruses. Above all, Jawo and Hjelt just wanna have fun, whether they're getting kicked out of bars and making out on "Then We Kiss" or sounding the party alarm on "Ready for the Weekend" and "On a Roll." Icona Pop know their strengths: they don't try to re-create "I Love It" too slavishly, and moodier songs like "Hold On" and the lighters-aloft power ballad "Just Another Night" never get too glum. While Hjelt and Jawo might want to keep their "I Love It" collaborator Charli XCX on retainer as their official songwriter, This Is…Icona Pop is a consistently fun album, and it would be even without their big single.

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