Cold Days in Hell
With little definition outside of (maybe) Trent Reznor’s righteous anger or the wet, wide umbrella of indie-dance, electronic music needs a bold statement among bold statements. Silent Shout, from Swedish duo The Knife, no doubt agitates the friendly ghosts summoned by Boards of Canada until they lash out, having been turned into malicious poltergeists.It’s music in touch with the cold expanses of siblings Olof and Karin Dreijer’s native landâ€šÃ„Ã®or at least it wants to beâ€šÃ„Ã®but constructed to actually feel claustrophobic, often peeking into personal circles of hell. The problem is familiar gimmicks quietly and unfortunately define this band and album.
The biggest cheat here is in-studio vocal modulation: From the “cracked smile and a silent shout” buried in the title track’s mix to the childlike warping of “Na Na Na,” the singing merely alludes to rocky territory already roamed by the likes of Bjork and Skinny Puppy.
The Dreijers also spend considerable time imbuing their lyrical context with schizophrenia. Trying to discern love found from love lost in “Marble House,” evolution from apocalypse in “We Share Our Mother’s Health,” or the exotic dancer from the always-prostituting musician in “Neverland” might become tiresome to all but the most dedicated fans.
The least harmful offense is found in The Knife’s morose beats and synth arrangements. These are uniformly dark and engaging despite owing a great debt to Depeche Mode (“We Share Our Mother’s Health”) and making some noise for Detroit (“Like a Pen”).
In the critical love hangover following this release one might wonder if the bold statement of Silent Shout resembles that of a stuck sample. While individual tracks can gratify, put in sequence there’s this threat of feeling like The Knife accidentally left their sounds and ideas on repeat.