This Page

has moved to a new address:


Sorry for the inconvenience…

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
White Noise: Fever Ray – Fever Ray

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Fever Ray – Fever Ray

To go solo from a band with such an important role in contemporary electro (The Knife) not to mention oodles of critical acclaim, must be a daunting task. While her brother Olof Dreijer was out exploring the Amazon rainforest, Karin seems to have stayed home and conjured a sound more subtle, claustrophobic and I would argue more consistent and well-realised than anything their joint outfit has produced.

It's not an easy first listen. There's no Marble House here to get you grooving with its brilliant electro-pop fusion. This album is dense and dark, it is definitely hard to pull apart. Her sounds are minimal and her lyrics oblique, but this LP is the very definition of a grower. There is so much brilliance and subtlety that still, 2 years after my first listen, I am struggling to take it all in. Her music creeps and swells; on Dry and Dusty the singular bounce of a beat introduces a barren soundscape of searing untreated synths and her voice propels itself through the tracks by the force of its own langour. Her sense of timing is exquisite, she builds up layers of oppressive synths and clattering, dropping noises that perhaps only come in once but are perfect.

This is the sound of inertia, her lyrics mythologise day-to-day existence and contrast the mundane with the profound in a way reminiscent of Thom Yorke: “We talk about love / we talk about dishwasher tablets” she sings on Seven, one of the more accessible tracks on the album with a catchy, propulsive bounce that swells beneath her contorted vocals. Her voice itself is heavily modified, as twisted and contorted as the ambience of the LP, often switching between two modes which almost represent a masculine and a feminine, juxtaposed to superb effect on Dry and Dusty, as they are alternated within the space of a single track. Not only is her toying with gender artful, striking and incredibly unusual within the context of an electro album, but it also leaves you wondering who is actually singing most of the time on The Knife's back catalogue, if her singular voice can be modified in so many ways.

It's impossible to really pick out standout tracks from the album: Triangle Walks has a superb tribal aesthetic and possibly the catchiest vocal hook on the record, while Concrete Walls introduces itself with a dubby throb of pure inert claustrophobia. Keep the Streets Empty For Me builds into a creeping anthem as her plea to be alone and her curious attitude towards her own isolation become more and more desperate until instead of exploding into the expectant climax they recede; there is no catharsis to save this narrator from her own mind. This is a technique that she employs to fantastic effect elsewhere, such as in the taut Now's the Only Time I Know which does explode (incredibly satisfyingly, may I add) but then quietens down and fades away.

This is a woman who is entirely a master of her own aesthetic: she realises that the emotions she is getting across are not easily solved by violent outbursts, it is a desolate cry from a soul who has retreated too far inside herself to recover, with echoes of nostalgia and isolation throughout her curious and often brilliantly evocative lyrics. She doesn't compromise her vision for anything, but the album is still eminently listenable, from the frighteningly lost vocal harmonies of If I Had a Heart to the lush electro soundscape of closer Coconut there is not a note or line put wrong.

I understand that this album is not the easiest to get into, it will definitely require several listens and perhaps a few lonely walks, but from start to finish it is utterly superb. Satisfying, uncompromising and haunting, this is as close to flawless as an album can get.


Labels: ,


At 16 May 2011 at 00:48 , Anonymous Kylie said...

Beautiful and insightful review of Fever Ray. You really unlocked the album and articulated its intricate purpose flawlessly.

At 27 May 2011 at 20:01 , Anonymous Tomas Wiggins said...

Hi there. I'm wiggle from the forum. You've written some cracking reviews!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home