The Dø

Shake Shook Shaken

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After completing the Both Ways Open Jaws tour, the Dø looked for a new creative path. Finding inspiration in the abstract electronics of Fuck Buttons and Kanye West's Yeezus, they emerged with Shake Shook Shaken, a set of songs trading kitchen sink experimentalism for sharp-edged electropop. It's a transformation for the better -- even though Mouthful and Both Ways Open Jaws had plenty of eclectic charms, the clearly defined aesthetic here allows them to concentrate on making pop that's addictively weird and catchy. The brightly bittersweet opener "Keep Your Lips Sealed" and the buzzing "Going Through Walls" recall the tart, hooky songs the Knife wrote before Silent Shout, while "Despair, Hangover & Ecstacy"'s sugar-coated melodrama calls to mind La Roux. The 's songwriting takes just as big a step forward as their sound, tackling the uncertainty of emotional fault lines and unwelcome but necessary change with vivid imagery and melodies. Olivia Merilahti's higher, slightly pained register suits turbulent songs such as "A Mess Like This," where she sings "You were the worst idea I ever had" with equal amounts of frustration and affection, and "Miracles (Back in Time)," an elliptical recounting of heartache with sentiments that pierce like arrows. Things get even more complicated on "Lick My Wounds," which teeters between joyous and bittersweet so often that it erases the line between them, while "Anita, No!" disguises its plea for closure in a pun. Though the album loses a little focus after its near-flawless first half, Shake Shook Shaken is the Dø's finest work yet and a pointed and poignant document of change and its aftermath.

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