Miike Snow, the Swedish indie pop group that released sophomore album "Happy To You" earlier this week, first delivered captivating dance tracks like "Animal" and "Silvia" on their surprisingly successful 2009 self-titled debut album. In retrospect, we should have seen the trio coming: after all, two-thirds of the group, Pontus Winnberg and Kristian Carlsson, were formerly known as Bloodshy & Avant and produced tracks like Britney Spears' "Toxic." Anything but predictable, "Happy To You" is a cleverly crafted mixture of melodic notes, piercing drum beats, and memorable lyrics. After three years and a whole slew of tour dates, the group found time to further perfect their craft.
"We just off tour less than a year ago then jumped back into the studio. So, we haven't really been doing anything else but Miike Snow," the trio (which also includes singer-songwriter Andrew Wyatt) tells Billboard.com. "The difference between the last album and this one is that this time we knew that we were making an album. The first one, we just wrote a bunch of songs that ended up on album." On "Happy To You," which they recorded during the second half of 2011, Miike Snow had more creative freedom. "The way we thought about songwriting was quite different, and also the production process was different because we could use other methods. We had straight sessions [and] we brought in the Swedish Army drum core to play on a couple of tracks. We could do more stuff like that this time since we could plan the process more."
What are some of the standouts on Miike Snow's sophomore album? Check out the trio's breakdown of each song on "Happy To You":
1. "Enter the Joker's Lair"
"'Enter the Joker' was the first thing I started to work on when we got back on tour, and I kind of felt like it was a good intro or something for the live show. And [we]just kept playing around with it and it turned into a song. It still feels like a pretty good introduction to the album."
2. "The Wave"
"When we started working with [director] Andreas Nilsson -- he's kind of like the guy that we collaborate with on the visual side. The first track we were having it as some kind of sonic reference point was 'The Wave'… and also, that was the first video we shot. It kind of sums up a lot what Miike Snow is about."
3. "Devil's Work"
"I think that was maybe the first song that we started working on together. I think we wanted to have something that kind of was a tribute to old like house music…piano, rhythm. And then, it kind of turned into like, this Mad Max orchestral cinematic thing, with like trombones and strings and all that stuff."
"It was one of those songs where it started with the beat, because it was kind of an original beat, it was really fast. It doesn't really have a structure of the typical song that we write, I think. It's pretty different. I think it stands out on the album, for sure."
5. "God Help This Divorce"
"There was kind of a trip-hoppy type beat from the beginning, and then Andrew just changed the sounds from drum sounds to harp sounds and then started playing around with that. It was an interesting change and kind of made it what it is today… It's kind of a mayhem of harps, and the rhythm and the beat of it is just based on all of those different pieces."
6. "Bavarian #1 (Say You Will)"
"[The song has] been the absolute most difficult one to do live. We've been rehearsing it forever. It's still hard to do it, but I think it sounds good. I think it's started to jump off live. We had to reconcile to playing… cause the main hook of the song is this computerized vocal thing, so it's a matter of how do you sing that live in a way that feels exciting to people, but also maintains the body of what makes it satisfying to listen to in recording."
"'Pretender' is kind of a revisit to early 90s dance music, which we are fans of -- like, the first Prodigy record when breakbeat became really big."
"That one was just sort of one of those things that came out as a piano vocal thing first and then we re-did it. So I think it's a bit different from the other songs on the record, but I think it still has some of the melodies that make it fit with the other songs on the album. Like the whistling melody in the bridge kind of ties it in a lot with some other things."
9. "Black Tin Box" featuring Lykke Li
"She's a friend of ours. And she just came by the studio and wanted to hear the record. We played it for her and she heard that song… We were kind of thinking maybe it would be cool to have her because we toured together. We used to do a duet on stage of a cover song that she had in her set. And I don't know, it just seemed like a good fit; like we had sort of weird Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton thing going on or something."
10. "Paddling Out"
"It's definitely a house song. We recorded a lot of [the album] in ABBA's old studio. That's the one you can hear it on."