Review of Fever Ray's self-titled album
The Knife released 'Silent Shout' in 2006 to the sound of the critical community orgasming in unison. The album stood, and stands alone; inimitable, content with its own company. Another Knife album would therefore have a huge burden of expectation on its shoulders. I suspect this was a factor in Karin Dreijer Anderson's decision to release her next batch of space-folk mantras under a different banner. After all, the philosophy that shapes this music is not so different to The Knife. There is perhaps an exaggerated eeriness to this record; a claustrophobia evoked neatly by the cover art, which shows Anderson stalking a village in a forest clearing. Some of the more expansive, anthemic moments that you get with the knife are not so immediate. For some people, they won't be there at all. For some, they will be submerged; caught within the coils of the albums serpentine foreboding.
I don't feel I'm treating this project unfairly by putting it close to the knife. In some ways, Fever Ray feels more like a reinterpretation of that sound more than a concerted departure. Anderson uses the same pitch-shifting vocal treatments to give the record different narrators. The pound-shop synths and drums machines are again used to glorious effect, managing to be retro and nostalgic whilst remaining forward looking, original and experimental. The electro backdrop is embellished with live guitar, and other live-sounding (but probably virtual) instruments such as mallets, steel-pan drums, and pan-pipes. The songwriting, arrangements and production are calibrated finely and used to paint an unsettling veneer onto a curiously everyday and familiar picture.