Review Summary: Fever Ray is a record that skulks about the shadows, implementing a slow boil within its detailed soundscapes.
Karin Dreijer Andersson can always be trusted to turn heads. Her prominence as a member of The Knife has served to bring her eccentric, yet utterly refreshing image to the forefront of modern electronica discourse. A few years after the release of the superb Silent Shout
, she decided to fly solo for a change, and without her brother Olof, took on the persona of Fever Ray. Inserting herself into a familiar landscape while remodeling the nucleus of her sonic inspiration, Andersson has unleashed an album that puts her psyche on full display. It’s a creepy, and at times sinister, endeavor that devotes itself to rhythm and mood concurrently.
is infused with a new sense of minimalism that permits Andersson’s vocals to direct the show as they please. As a result, she takes the liberty of modulating her voice in a way that frequently seems to denote multiple phases of her personality, but these phases are never clear-cut and tend to intersect. Her deep androgynous croons on “Concrete Walls” awkwardly interlock the simple joys and the cumbersome burdens of parenthood. “When I Grow Up”, on the other hand, features her moderately shrill vocals as she parallels ideas of childhood and adulthood. However, the basis of the LP’s attraction is its unapologetically cryptic nature. Fever Ray
demands a certain level of dissection to fully understand and embrace its tenets. Thus, the album itself is a slow boil.
The record flows tremendously, thanks to its consistency of finely crafted beats. Many tracks like “Seven” and “Now’s the Only Time I Know” operate on a similar canvas, though they always distinguish themselves through their stylistic nuances. Opener “If I Had a Heart” takes on the darkest shade of gray with its palpitating progression and its reflection on greed, and it still manages to be one of the most infectious songs Andersson has ever composed. And though the entire album is not quite immediate in impact, with multiple listens the depth of the mystery cloaking the album becomes more and more irresistible. The woodwinds on “Keep the Streets Empty for Me” and the ever-evolving atmosphere of “Dry and Dusty” attest to Andersson’s heterogeneous approach to sound, which still yields a unified body of work.
While many of her songs tend to work in the shadows, Fever Ray fully embraces this hint of darkness and renders it enticing. The confidence that her voice exudes blends perfectly with its fragility. Additionally, as the record builds, it portends something disquieting. Though none of the tracks really leap out at the listener in a very overt manner, they seem to be stirring up an internal combustion of sorts, a fire that burns up until the album’s conclusion.
is not a dance album per se; it’s an electronic daze with absorbing enigmas embedded within its delicate exterior. Themes of anxiety saturate the grooves, and the commitment to sonic exploration bears a rewarding experience for those who learn to play by Fever Ray’s rules. This is an album that avoids being tempestuous; instead, it calmly functions within the eye of the storm.
If I Had a Heart
Now’s the Only Time I Know
When I Grow Up