This brave world of electro scares me a tad. Uncompromising instrumentation, odd vocals, jilted fashion…. it feels like I’ve been invited to a party that kicked off ages ago by someone who doesn’t even like me that much just so they can mess around with my head. It’s not an instantly welcoming world, but hey, I’ll try anything multiple times. Fever Ray is the solo album from Karin Dreijer Andersson, the female half of Swedish duo The Knife, and whilst it’s recognisably made by one half of that Scandinavian electropop machine, it’s a far more measured, intense and less welcoming proposition.
If there’s a tendency with side-projects to sound too much like your day job, someone clearly forgot to tell Karin, because Fever Ray is not a particularly easy listen. The artwork, videos and promo visuals point to a darker tone, and that’s evident throughout the album. There is light, but it’s jostling for position with some dark, electronic paranoia, which makes for an interesting mix. For instance, droning loops, slow beats and some downright spooky vocal effects dominate opener If I Had A Heart, and bright synth tones with wailing, brash Bjork-style vocals are all over on When I Grow Up. It’s an interesting combination that could’ve gone horribly wrong in the hands of anyone else, but Anderson holds it all together with some constantly morphing vocals and clear ability in her craft.
Perhaps the reason that Fever Ray is such an interesting album is that it’s a difficult listen. There’s nothing really dancefloor worthy to speak of, there’s many a paranoid moment to go with some desolate songs and even the more positive numbers aren’t instantly accessible. It’s not a record that’ll welcome you with open arms, and it’ll make you work before you really get a grasp of it and enjoy what’s on offer. Inkeeping with the music, the videos Fever Ray’s singles are equally evocative, mysterious and downright odd at times, but they add something to the unique mystique Anderson has created with her debut solo effort. It’s not an easy journey, but it’s one worth taking.
Video for When I Grow Up: