‘Shaking The Habitual’ (Rabid)
Fittingly for a band that co-wrote an opera on Charles Darwin, The Knife’s evolution has been fascinating to observe. Starting life as a mildly eccentric synth pop group at the turn of the millennium, it wasn’t until 2006’s ‘Silent Shout’ that the Swedish duo stretched out fully, with a sublimely icy set emphasising Karin Dreijer Andersson’s oddly detached introspection, subsequently explored on her Fever Ray offering of 2009.
Operas aside, ‘Shaking The Habitual’ arrives as the band’s first proper studio album in seven years, and it’s by some distance their weirdest to date. Crudely, this 100-minute epic can be split into ‘pop’ tracks and longer stretches of sinister ambience – but given that the former category harbours more daring than most groups muster in a lifetime, maybe not. ‘A Tooth For An Eye’ adds dense polyrhythms and steel drum to their repertoire, ‘Raging Lung’ does drowsy, bass-led psychedelia, and ‘Full Of Fire’ shows that, while some folk use acoustic guitars to express their feelings, The Knife make do with poundingly visceral, industrial techno.
And while some of the abstract material here is frustratingly opaque, how many other ‘pop’ acts can you name that would have the brass cojones to drop a near 20-minute track right in the middle of their record? Astonishing.