If you're nostalgic for the days when The Knife were making pop songs instead of trying to re-create the Eraserhead soundtrack using wood blocks and rusty pipes as some sort of attempt at a global sexism cure-all, then new Norwegian duo Soft as Snow should fill the void in your life. This isn't just a case of, "Oh, here's a male-female Scandinavian duo making electro-pop so let's invoke The Knife by default" — the comparison is earned, at least based on "Black Birds," which is more or less serving as Soft as Snow's proper introduction to the music world.

London-based artists Oda Egjar Starheim and Øystein Monsen have taken a minimal wave programmed beat and contrasted that with layers of undulating atmospherics and rubbery synth horns, along with hard-to-decipher ice nymph vocals. It's pop, but it's also an expert juxtaposition of concrete and abstract textures, and just when the song seems to be wrapping up, there's a curveball as things slow down to a dark churn.

"Black Birds" is off Soft as Snow's debut Glass Body EP, out July 21 on boutique British label Houndstooth.

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