As one half of acclaimed electro duo The Knife, Karin Dreijer Andersson thrives on theatrics. She and brother Olaf craft dense atmospheres laced with morbid, obscure lyrics, while their live shows find them shrouded in darkness, covered in face paint, flanked by ominous singing puppets. On her eponymous solo debut as Fever Ray, Andersson steps out of her self-imposed shadows with more personal songwriting and more organic instrumentation. While not too far removed from her Silent Shouts of yesteryear, it still brings its own distinct, otherworldly chill to the air.The black hole into Karin’s private world opens wide on first single “”If I Had a Heart,”” where a swirling dirge gives way to electronically phased pleas for “”more, give me more, give me more.”” That sense of yearning permeates the entire album, be it for a hand to hold (“”Dry & Dusty””), reconnection with an old friend (“”Seven””), or what sounds like a much-needed nap (the back-to-back “”Triangle Walks”” and “”Concrete Walls”” which hint at her difficulties with caring for her newborn child). The lonely vibe of these narratives suits the music, which rarely extends beyond distant synths and percolating percussion that echo similar work by High Places and Matmos.
ame Often disturbingly intimate, the album manages to offer some of Anderssonâ€šÃ„Ã´s most accessible songs yet. “”When I Grow Up”” is a wistful hypothetical layered with an insistent beat and surprisingly warm (if a bit vintage) guitar lick, while “”Seven”” is skeletal synth-pop elegance recalling The Knife’s breakthrough album Deep Cuts. Best of all is the softly swelling “”Now’s the Only Time I Know.”” Karin sings a duet with herself about the acceptance of her new life priorities with a power and beauty that rivals Bjorkâ€šÃ„Ã®this is her “”Hyperballad,”” if you will.
ame If there is any complaint to be made, it’s that there is nothing on this album as immediately striking as “”Heartbeats”” or “”We Share Our Motherâ€šÃ„Ã´s Health.”” Yet as a whole, it’s actually more consistent and haunting than any of The Knife’s output. The ambushes of albums past may have knocked listeners down quicker, but Fever Ray hits harder.