Three records in, the members of Sweden's Miike Snow remain highly detailed pop craftsmen with a sure understanding of sharp hooks. That's both a strength and a weakness: The architecture of these layered slices of electro-pop is transparent, but the songs never offer more than surface pleasures. Producers Christian Karlson and Pontus Winnberg are rhythmically aggressive, adding a twist of funk to their swirls of effects, keyboards, and spacious harmonies. The sonically inventive "For U," featuring Charli XCX, unfortunately magnifies the shortcomings of Miike's monochromatic singer, Andrew Wyatt, whose vocals pale next Charli's insinuating turn. Throughout, skillful production overcompensates for Wyatt's limitations and some banal, poorly conceived lyrics. The sketchy self-loathing and creepy possessiveness of "Genghis Khan" is transformed into ingratiating dance music for women filing restraining orders. Fire-breathing rap duo Run the Jewels cameo on a remix of "Heart Is Full," making for a discordant combination — think pouring chili powder on a Fluffernutter. The album does offer some irresistible moments, but they evaporate quickly.
ESSENTIAL "For U"
Miike Snow performs at the Boston Calling festival May 28.
Ken Capobianco can be reached at email@example.com.