The earliest stage of the Galantis project was born in 2009 when Christian Karlsson of Miike Snow asked Linus Eklöw, aka Style of Eye, to remix his band’s “Animal” single. The resulting rework was a dark, eight-minute electro roller operating in a similar stylistic space as a couple Tiga remixes which surfaced around the same time: Popof’s bouncy remix of “Sunglasses At Night” and Hey Today!’s deep and bleepy white noise-splashed take on “You Gonna Want Me”.
After a few years of exchanging ideas in the studio the pair decided to adopt Karlsson’s approach to songwriting, with each track being written on the piano or guitar and then refit with its electronic elements, and Galantis started to take shape. The idea was to make use of both artists’ strengths in songwriting — Karlsson is also known for co-writing Spears’ “Toxic” and Eklöw co-wrote Icona Pop’s “I Love It” — to breathe life into the somewhat stagnant mainstage dance scene.
Their resulting debut single, “Smile”, sounded like a combination of Karlsson’s signature Miike Snow style vocal and harmony work paired with Eklöw’s progressive dance pop production, and a new influence of Swedish House Mafia style hands up, cryo blasted breakdowns. Following the success of “You”, a live debut at 2014’s Coachella, and “Runaway (U and I)”, the duo were ready to launch their debut album, Pharmacy.
The opening track off the new LP, “Forever Tonight”, is filled with words like “forever”, “together” and “we are one”, which makes me feel like they’ve become less interested in distancing themselves from the sound they originally set out to influence, yet there’s still no denying both artists’ abilities as producers. When Karlsson isn’t singing, the pair incorporate a unique vocalist, and the grand piano elements in tracks like “Gold Dust” and “Kill ‘Em With The Love” will always set them apart from the average big room production.
The main downside of the album is that every track is built like a standalone radio or festival single. Each of the 13 featured songs, for the most part, repeat a similar structure of vocal-centric build ups and massive crowd pleasing drops, which, after a while, begins to feel tiring. “Dancin’ To The Sound Of A Broken Heart” and “Louder, Harder, Better” are two standouts that are rich in the human elements and raw emotion that I think they initially set out to create.
There’s nothing wrong with catering to an audience, especially when you have to mirror the energy of your sound with the size of the shows you’re playing, but I feel like a debut album is a chance for an act to showcase their range in production. With the duo already having crushed it with the singles leading up to this release, it would’ve been nice to hear the project exploring a more dynamic set of styles, moods, and sonic landscapes. We get a taste of this in “Kill ‘Em With the Love”, which flirts with drum & bass, and the house’d up “Peanut Butter Jelly”, but overall, Pharmacy plays like a singles pack rather than a songwriting-driven narrative.
words: fan fic