Friday, 6 December 2013

Albums of the Year 2013 #14 - The Knife - Shaking The Habitual

Released in Spring of 2013, there was a weight of expectation resting on The Knife’s Shaking The Habitual. After all, since their 2006 menacing but pop laden release Silent Shout Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olaf Dreijer had been placed on a pedestal; the Swedish duo becoming something more than just a band – an enigma perhaps?  It was that expectation that left many fans feeling confused, bewildered and disappointed when they first heard Shaking The Habitual.

Yet Shaking The Habitual makes its way onto the Breaking More Waves album of the year list. It’s certainly not an easy album to listen to. It’s complex, sprawling, messy and ambitious– it’s also a significant departure from their previous work. One track Old Dreams Waiting To Be Realised is a 19 minute long ambient / drone piece. Cherry On Top is a 9 minute jarring experimental ballad which will find many listeners pressing skip. There’s some sort of personal political concept within the record (which is somewhat blurred as many of the lyrics are not easily decipherable). Songs evolve and then disintegrate just when you thought you were getting a take on them. Parts of it sound like the soundtrack to a druggy horror film soundtrack. But like any challenge, once immersed in it, Shaking The Habitual is a very rewarding album. 

Amongst the industrial weird-tech, the synthetic oddness and organic beaty clatters this is a strangely coherent record that is always fascinating, occasionally brilliant and one we return to regularly to try and uncover a little more. It’s also the album that redefines The Knife; they are no longer a pop band, but as Lady Gaga would like to be, they are artpop.

The Knife - Full Of Fire

The Knife - A Tooth For An Eye (Video)

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