Dusting Off... Fever Ray's Fever Ray
What is it?
By the time Karin Dreijer Andersson released her solo debut in 2009 she had already built a reputation as one of the Scandinavia’s most forward-thinking artists, first in her native Sweden as the lead vocalist and guitarist of alt-rock band Honey Is Cool, then as one half of electronic duo The Knife, along with her younger brother Olof.
Releasing their eponymous debut in 2001, The Knife went on to release two further albums between 2003 and 2006 - Deep Cuts and Silent Shout – both of which were well-received by critics and helped cement their reputation as one of the most unique acts working in the electronic music genre. In addition, Dreijer performed vocal duties on a number of tracks by Norwegian duo Röyksopp on two of their albums, The Understanding and Junior, and appeared as lead vocalist on the dEUS song 'Slow', taken from 2008's Vantage Point.
When The Knife announced they were going on hiatus after their third LP, Dreijer began working on a solo project and, in early 2009, released the album Fever Ray under the same name.
Those familiar with The Knife's work will find some familiar elements to Fever Ray, but the album is a very different beast to something like Deep Cuts. The record's overall mood is much slower, starker in its arrangements and features some very atmospheric soundscapes. The word 'glacial' is often used in descriptions of Fever Ray and it's easy to see why; the album features some pretty icy synth sounds and tracks like 'If I Had A Heart' and 'Concrete Walls' also feature some spooky voice-pitching effects, transforming Dreijer's distinctive voice into something altogether more guttural and primal.
Why should I revisit?
Fans of Michael Hirst's drama series Vikings will already be familiar with the opening track 'If I Had A Heart', which serves as the show's main theme, but Breaking Bad fans may also recognise the song, which featured in one of season 4's episodes.
Dreijer has been involved with some of the best music to come out of Sweden in recent years and has had a varied career that has also included composing soundtracks for the likes of Dirty Diaries and Hannah med H, so her work is always worth listening to.
As far as Fever Ray goes, when the clocks go back this weekend the summer will be officially over, and while there are an almost infinite number of albums you could name that could be described as having a 'summery' feel to them, it's much harder to think of records that sound like 'winter', but Fever Ray is definitely one of them. Despite its icy feel in places, there's a warmth and a sense of wonder to the record too, and if you're looking for an album to soundtrack those cold winter evenings while you're cosying up in front of the fire, you could do a lot worse than giving this one a spin.
Who will enjoy it?
Fans of acts like Boards of Canada and Bjork will find plenty to like about Fever Ray, and anyone who enjoys The Knife's music should give this one a listen if they haven't already. It is quite different to the duo's output in many ways, but it shows that Karin doesn't necessarily need Olof's help to make a brilliant and imaginative record.