The blissful abandon of Niki and the Dove's debut album, Instinct, hinted that Malin Dahlström and Gustaf Karlöf knew a little something about dancing their troubles away. On Everybody's Heart Is Broken Now, they take that feeling to epic, politically charged heights, building on synth pop's luminosity, disco's slow-burning sensuality, and the legacy of two legends who passed in 2016. Prince's influence casts a purple shadow on the seductive opener "So Much It Hurts," where Dahlström alludes to "Thieves in the Temple"; later, she channels David Bowie as she quotes "Heroes" over a Paisley Park beat on "Pretty Babies." The duo's skill at re-creating these sounds doesn't make them any less powerful -- if anything, Niki and the Dove's meticulous craft helps listeners tap into the euphoria of these songs instantly.
Throughout Everybody's Heart Is Broken Now, Dahlström and Karlöf's nostalgia has depth and purpose; they're looking back to bring the good feelings of the past into the present. "People looked so different then/Because they were smiling" Dahlström sings on "Play It on My Radio," a pop mantra that glows like a memory of summer during a long Swedish winter. Here and on the intimate Fleetwood Mac homage "Lost UB," she's never sounded finer, delivering her appeals to the heart with vulnerability and drama that rivals -- and resembles -- Stevie Nicks. She and Karlöf set these emotions to irresistible rhythms on "You Stole My Heart Away," where the shimmying guitar makes it easier to shake off the pain, and make the personal political on "Ode to Dance Floor," a defiantly joyous response to the racism and riots that inspired them to make this album.
As Everybody's Heart Is Broken Now unfolds, it reaffirms that Niki and the Dove can craft a mood like few other artists. The glorious slow build and seemingly endless climaxes of the '70s-worshiping "Everybody Wants to Be You" prove that in their hands, there's no such thing as too much. "Brand New" puts a more avant-garde spin on the same idea, with streaking synths and rippling piano echoing Dahlström's stream-of-consciousness joy. However, the album's lighthearted moments are just as vital as the soul-bearing ones. Some of Instinct's mischief returns on "Shark City (Tropico X)," while the summery "You Want the Sun" is yet another reminder of how important the good times are in Niki and the Dove's world. The musical equivalent of a group hug on the dancefloor, Everybody's Heart Is Broken Now is a testament to the healing power of love and music against the darker forces in the world.