Fever Ray: The Best Album of 2009 (Redux)

fever-ray-album-artwork

I stand by my enthusiasm for the new Animal Collective record. I have it in full now, and it’s glorious in parts. But if there’s a modern collective who butters my bread even more than the Animal one, it’s Swedish anti-pop-stars, The Knife. Silent Shout (2006) remains my favorite record of the decade—it just doesn’t get old—and I listen to their live show in Gothenburg (available as a bonus disc in the Silent Shout Deluxe Edition) just as compulsively. Deep Cuts (2003) is excellent, too. I even like The Knife (2001).

I’ve never been good at explaining why I like (or dislike) things, and certainly not at explaining why others should like them. In general, The Knife have little in common with my other favorite types of music: sunny pop and druggy, damaged drone. They’re hardly a ‘perfect mixture’ of everything I love about music. Actually, I can’t identify what they’re a mixture of; who are their predecessors?

The Knife are, for lack of a better word, inscrutable. I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to their records, but they continue to be, to my ears, at least, pleasingly inaccessible; nearly every turn remains fresh and unexpected, even fascinating. (A masked appearance and Edward Gorey aesthetic facilitate these interpretations.) Their music exudes an alien warmth, a joie de mourir, a dark party pulsating beneath a snow drift. The beats are profound, the timing warped, their voices cursed.

Fever Ray is Karin Dreijer, the sister half of the brother-sister whole, The Knife. To be honest, Fever Ray could be the new Knife album; I’m still isolating, sonically, what differentiates this solo project. It has more expanse and inertia. The vocals are less obscured and foreboding. At times, it recalls the Kate Bush at her most ambient:

Fever Ray – Keep the Streets Empty For Me

The whole record is available for download now (legally and otherwise), and the physical version will see release in the states this March. It has all the qualities of an excellent album: each listen reveals another deft nuance and I reconsider my favorite moments daily. I feel both eager to promote it and protective, as if, absurdly, greater visibility will somehow degrade its impact… I don’t expect everyone to like itI know that not all my readers indulge my acute Swedophiliabut Fever Ray is for me an instant, affecting classic.

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~ by ohkrapp on January 23, 2009.

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