Exclaim!'s Best of 2013: Top 10 Dance & Electronic Albums

6. The Knife
Shaking the Habitual

In a lot of ways, the Knife's Shaking the Habitual is a bold statement about what an album can be in 2013. Seven years after the award-winning Silent Shout, Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer jolt listeners into a state of uneasiness and keep a tight grip on one's attention on this sprawling double album.

Clocking in at a challenging 98 minutes, Shaking the Habitual doesn't cut any corners or offer any easy outs. Jarring percussion, long ambient drones, calypso-influenced rhythms and unruly electronic experiments don't work well in a playlist, but in the context of the album, their power can be unexpected. Shaking the Habitual isn't just compelling because it demands one's attention — it wraps itself in the same mystique that the Knife have been carefully orchestrating over the years — but because it manages to defy expectations enough to make it sound entirely new.

While the band has always been shrouded in an eerie sense of secrecy, they seem more open and exposed on Shaking the Habitual, but that, too, is all part of the illusion. In our information-obsessed culture, few artists control their message and run counter to expectations better than the Knife. (Anthony Augustine)