I’m not ashamed to admit that I get a bit fan-girly when someone mentions The Knife. I wouldn’t go as far as to lump myself in the same category as One Direction’s underwear-throwers, but I do think I’d get a bit squealy if I ever bumped into Dreijer Andersson (aka lead singer Fever Ray) on the street. Needless to say, I have been anticipating this album. A lot.
And it’s been a long time coming. Many moons have passed since 2006’s Silent Shout and I was beginning to get a bit itchy-footed. When I finally got my paws on the Shaking The Habitual album stream off of The Knife’s soundcloud and saw the whopping one hour and thirty-three minute tracklisting, I knew I’d have to put aside some serious time to sit back and listen, uninterrupted.
It’s difficult to put into words exactly what this album is about. For starters I wouldn’t recommend listening to the whole thing in one go, even if you are a die-hard fan. While the up-tempo, recognisably ‘Knife’ tracks are absolute gems, when you’re trying to wade your way through a nineteen minute drone (Track 7 if you don’t believe me), you do begin to wonder if you haven’t accidentally subjected yourself to some form of strange Swedish hypnosis. Like the title ‘Old Dreams Waiting To Be Realized’ suggests, if that old dream that you’re waiting for is a climax or ‘drop’ of some description, I fear you are going to be waiting a long time.
That being said, while the album has its ups and downs, the ups are definitely worth the (albeit extended) downs. ‘Tooth For An Eye’, which was released just prior to the album going live, is a cracking tune and a great album opener. Reminiscent of the ‘We Share Our Mothers Health’s and ‘Like A Pen’s of albums past, it’s in these upbeat tracks that The Knife’s signature style comes through hardest. ‘Raging Lung’ especially just groans with the trademark surging bass and tinny beats that we’ve been so longing for, while ‘Stay Out Here’ is such heavy techno that Dapayk and Padberg would be proud.
It is an undoubtedly intelligent album. With references being thrown out left, right and centre (Margaret Atwood fans, spot it if you can) the intellect of The Knife’s creative thinkers is unquestionable. I also suspect this album was created with a visual accompaniment in mind. If there’s one thing I learnt from Fever Ray’s 2010 Bestival performance is that these guys are no stranger to the ‘audio-visual’ concept. What with the growing demand for ‘something more’ from a live performance, I can very much imagine this album being performed to a wide-eyed audience, accompanied by all the euphoric lights and abstract lasers that would backdrop some of the stranger tracks to make them that bit more accessible.
So, the verdict. Does it live up to hard-built expectations and long-awaited anticipation? To some extent yes. While I would admit that a lot of the album just goes right over my head, when it’s good, it’s ear-splittingly good and that, in my opinion, makes it worth the wait.By Roseanna Brear