Enigmatic brother-sister duo The Knife called it quits two years ago, and the 10-year anniversary of their seminal Silent Shout has the defunct group on my mind lately. Their brand of moody, broody electro-pop has been oft-imitated since that album — artists like Zola Jesus and iamamiwhoami exhibit Knife-like fingerprints in their music — though no one ever did it quite so well. More impressive still, Karin and Olof Dreijer used their bangers as Trojan horses, protests against social norms nestled within. The Knife would never again package their MO so accessibly. Seven years after Silent Shout the group released their follow-up and final album, Shaking the Habitual, a bonkers 96-minute attack on all manner of oppressive structures (seriously, have you heard Shaking the Habitual? It’s not music made by humans).
Silent Shout and Shaking the Habitual are both terrific, but my personal favorite Knife-related outing is actually Karin Dreijer’s self-titled solo debut as Fever Ray. Rather than speeding along to tribal percussion or an ominous hook, the pace of Fever Ray is deliberate. Pulsing synths and vocals pitched down to near-sub bass levels evoke the feeling of slowly sinking into a swamp. The subject matter of Fever Ray is similarly distinct. Though somewhat inscrutable, Dreijer’s lyrics hew closer to the personal than societal, dealing with mental illness and the perils of domesticity. I miss The Knife a lot, but maybe it’s worth losing them if it leads to more Fever Ray?