Lisa Miskovsky has several claims to fame; she already has a greatest hits album, once competed as part of the Swedish national snowboarding team, and wrote the lyrics to Backstreet Boys’ worldwide hit ‘Shape Of My Heart’ (not in that order). Indeed, having taken home two Swedish Grammis and won several other awards, Miskovsky is one of Scandinavia’s most renowned popstars. In the UK, however, her name is not nearly as familiar, so it may come as surprise to some that Violent Sky is album number five from the major-label artist. Stylistically, it’s most definitely a pop release, but one with a distinct texture. A super-engineered electricity runs through most of the record, returning us to the heady days of 1980s power-pop so convincingly that you can almost touch the phenomenal cheekbones of Belinda Carlisle. But, thanks in part to co-writer and producer Björn Yttling (Lykke Li, Sarah Blasko), there’s more to Violent Sky than simply varnished, soaring choruses and pumping, heartbeat drums. It’s slick, yes, but it tries to keeps things fresh; no track here is too akin to its neighbours.
Impressively for such a varied album, Miskovsky is purported to have played almost every instrument on the album herself, working out of her own studio. Opener ‘This Fire’ is the track that bears Yttling’s production trademarks most obviously. Boasting a hypnotic chant and driving, bongo-style rhythms, with a less ardent, polished vocal it would not sound out of place on Lykke Li’s latest album; or, if more overblown, could even rival Shakira. Like the Colombian megastar, Miskovsky has a way with lyrics that’s often engaging; not deep, but curious, and never more so than on the bizarre ‘Silver Shoes’, a relationship yarn told through the dancefloor adventures of a shiny pair of heels. ‘A Little High’ is a far more personal song, and on such an electronic-focused, urbanely produced album, the metallic scrape of fingers moving thoughtfully down guitar strings is refreshing to hear. The production may be inches thick but the out-and-out pop traits of Violent Sky prove to be surprisingly endearing, the air above sometimes yielding to a fist-pump of pleasure – guilty or otherwise.
[Columbia; January 31, 2011]
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