Review Summary: A very original work by Karin Dreijer Anderson that has a signature sound that keeps you coming back for more. The Knife fans should love this and other people with a taste for some atmospheric electronic music.
Karin Dreijer Anderson is probably most known for her work with the electronic project "The Knife" together with her brother Olof Dreijer, the duo is regarded quite high amongst the modern electronic artists . Having a quite odd sound and Karin's very unique vocals as well as their strange public image (they always appeared in some sort of masks) made them stand out amongst the crowd.
While The Knife was put on hiatus, Karin decided to put out her first solo album entitled "Fever Ray" which was digitally released 12th of January in 2009 followed by a retail release in 18th of March.
In this record, The "trip-poppy" ambient sound of The Knife is preserved but Karin also manages to morph it into something else.
There is a specific tone that runs throughout the whole album connecting each and every track with a tribal feeling, contributed mainly by the samples and beats that have been used here. For example in "Triangle Walks" there are beats that sound something between 80s synthpop and tribal drums. Karin's persona has also helped to establish a very mysterious aura around this album which of course has only worked to her advantage.
She has pretty much nailed down her sound almost perfectly with this album and that is a feat not to be taken lightly since many artists struggle with finding that unique sound that is tied to that specific artist or band.
While the persona of Fever Ray is surrounded by mystery, the lyrics on this album feel very simplistic and personal which also ads a bit to the 80s synthpop vibe that The Knife has. Take for example the track "Seven" where Karin sings about riding her bike and talking with friends on the telephone. It is a very odd mix, but maybe that's why it works so well. There's also other tracks like "Between Concrete Walls" and "If I had a heart" which really sound personal which is really not something you would expect by only judging this book by it's cover, sort of speak.
If Karin's voice wasn't unique enough for you, this album also features some tracks where they have used a voice altering treatment which makes her voice sound much deeper than it really is. This creates a very eerie and atmospheric sound where at times the voice almost doesn't sound human. Small touches like that are scattered throughout the whole album which creates diversity amongst the tracks.
It's knit very tightly together with a bow on top creating a signature sound as well as having a great atmosphere surrounding this record.
When it comes to the production itself it's pretty much flawless, every beat is absolutely crystal clear and having the voice altering there as well, they did a fantastic job of making this record sound great.
As far as Karin's vocals go, for some people it's a matter of preference. Because I do know for a fact that it is a turn-off for some people who enjoy the music but do not like the vocals. Personally I feel that it only ads to the whole experience, at some points it really shines through like in the track "When I grow up" and it is a voice you can only call unique.
This album mixes the synthpop elements that are present in The Knife mixing them together with a mysterious tribal appeal and a great atmosphere. It has a good amount of memorable tracks with fantastic beats and great vocals.
If you can get past the odd factor, this most certainly a superb record and it is probably one of the most original works I've heard come from electronic music these past years.