Fever Ray is the solo project from Karin Dreijer Andersson of The Knife one of the most reputable electronic outfits of our time. The band’s 2006 album Silent Shout received mass critical acclaim as a shining example of spooky, modernistic synth-pop. In much the same way that Thom Yorke’s The Eraser sounds like Radiohead, Fever Ray sounds very much like an extension of The Knife. On the eponymous album, Karin explores and perhaps further indulges in her own style, a more organic sound. Essentially this is Silent Shout gone primal.
Opening with -If I Had A Heart’, a dark drum-less piece of pulsating electronic didgeridoo, Karin’s dark vocal style is that of a hauntingly beautiful siren luring us into sinister and murky waters. -When I Grow Up’ is a sonically electrifying strange confessional. Though the lyrics may be phonetically clear their overall connotation is anything but. It appears as an uncharacteristic insight into her personal life but attempts to understand her will only further heighten the mystery shrouding the Swedish songstress, particularly when she sings ‘Waiting for a sea shell to embrace me’. On the ominous, pop gem -Seven’, Andersson discusses love and dishwasher tablets with a voice in her head. Endearingly she pronounces words such as ‘seven’ and ‘rest’ as ‘sivin’ and ‘rist’ like a Mancunian with a Welsh accent.
The albums production has an 80’s aesthetic, most apparent on the sharp synth sounds of -Triangle Walks’ an anxious ballad of abandonment. Adding to the anxiety -Concrete Walls’ is a claustrophobic tale of loneliness and lack of sleep. The tempo is increased for the eerie euro-pop ‘Now’s The Only Time I Know’, where there are definite borrowings from her back catalogue. However ‘I’m Not Done’ finds Fever Ray at its most Knife-like, which would have sat well on either of their last two albums. Some beats are like a like iron monger clanging his anvil. As The Knife did with the steel drum, Fever Ray use the most offensive of (wind blowing) instruments, the panpipe, in a contemporary manner and to notable affect it has to be said. With not a scented candle or self help book in sight, surely this is the greatest achievement of any recording artist this year.
A spooky masterpiece, Fever Ray is a soundtrack to Spring, albeit the darker shades of the season.