When The Knife chose to take a break after their acclaimed album, Silent Shout, in 2007 a lot of people were left feeling disappointed. The band’s third album had been one of the highlights of 2006 and had both critics and fans hungry for more. While last year appeared to be a quiet one for the Dreijer siblings, this year is the polar opposite. Olof is in the Amazon recording sounds of animals and plants for a Darwin Opera, Tomorrow, In a Year that The Knife will create the music to. Karin on the other hand has clearly shown that she that she can stand on her own with Fever Ray, her solo outing.
Fever Ray share some striking similarities with The Knife, such as their penchant for electronic melodies and heavily distorted vocals, but it has a darker and more melancholic tone to it overall. The album is austere and cold, reminiscent of a snowy and windy winter night at the end of a Scandinavian November. “If I Had A Heart”, the first song of the album, could easily been the lead song in last year’s Swedish movie success Let the Right One In. They share a similar lonely, bleak feeling. In “Seven” it’s the lyrics rather than the melodies that instil a dark, foreboding impression with “It doesn’t need more explanation, A box to open up with light and sound, making you cold, very cold”.
There is however a softer side to the album. “Dry and Dusty” is almost romantic with its focus on a sense of belonging with someone and to someplace. “Triangle Walk” on the other hand touches on ordinary problems such as lack of sleep which Karin most likely suffered from since the songs were written after the birth of her second child. Her sleep debt most likely also contributed to the dreamy mood of many of songs, such as “I’m not Done” and “Keep the Streets Empty For Me” where her subconscious thoughts bubble to the surface.
Half of Fever Ray was produced by Christoffer Berg, who has collaborated with The Knife for some time, while the rest was produced by the Stockholm duo Van Rivers & the Subliminal Kid. Despite the two producers the album is very consistent and connected and leaves a strong impression with the listener. While the pace is slower and far more sombre than Karin’s previous work Fever Ray clearly demonstrates that Karin is not only singing “I put my soul in what I do” (from “When I Grow Up”), she is really doing it.