What is it with Scandinavians and janky electropop? Were they kidnapped as toddlers and implanted with cerebral stimulants which kicked in late in life compelling their unbeknown hosts to pickup a keyboard?
The Knife’s new record is certainly far more alien than their previous offerings, the most significant being Deep Cuts (2003) which yielded Heartbeats and set the inconceivable ball rolling to break José González, crack The Knife out of their anti-publicity shells and play their one and only gig ever – about time after six years of self-imposed DIY toil. Lest it be forgotten, Silent Shout was chiseled out in an old carbon dioxide factory and a grand church.
Apart from this type of profile making for dramatic effect and average copy, Olof Dreijer and his sister Karin also seem to be really rocking the exiled genius thing. Syd Barrett of course takes the pie for that one.
Says Karin: “I guess many songs are about looking for something to spend time, and to fill the body, to avoid loneliness and the physical functions or dysfunctions of the body. It’s one step forward and one step back.”
I’m as dumbfounded too. There is no sense of Silent Shout being the type of album that stimulates the body in the way an Air or Massive Attack record can. Take some crystal meth and then perhaps I’ll be proved wrong, but we don’t want to be going down that route.
The Captain broods under the cloak of Vangelis / Jean Michel Jarre style synth but its promise is ruined by a Karin’s entry under a dodgy vocoder, possibly cobbled together by a Viking, which makes her sound like a Smurf.
The middle portion has a darker tint to it, with the duo leaning harder on their techno influences which are mingled with all manner of beeps, blurps and warbles.
Forest Families serves up a vibrant treat and shares similar DNA to Energy 52’s classic Cafe del Mar. It also signals the effective climax of the album, as the final songs drift off into soundscapes where the likes of recent Radiohead and Sigur Ros are more commonly found.
If you’re looking to buy this record on the back of Heartbeats you may be disappointed as it bears little resemblance to the Knife’s current work. Indeed Deep Cuts was almost as varied in styles, though a generally more upbeat, pop affair.
There is no doubt that The Knife could produce an album worthy of comparison to their influences and contemporaries, but for now, as Karin says, it’s one step forward and one step back.