The Knife Shaking the Habitual

The KnifeShaking the Habitual
You can't accuse Swedish siblings the Knife of becoming stagnant, musically or otherwise. In addition to Karin Dreijer Andersson's solo output as Fever Ray and the duo's recent out-there opera (in collaboration with fellow oddballs Mt. Sims and Planningtorock), Olof Dreijer also found time to get his PhD in Political Science and Women's Studies. Aforementioned avant-opera aside, Shaking the Habitual is the first album from the Knife in seven years, following the release of the award-winning Silent Shout. Fans of that record and the preceding Deep Cuts will be barking up the wrong tree if they're expecting to find another "Heartbeats." Far from a pop album, Shaking the Habitual is the length of your average movie, with several tracks hovering around the ten-minute mark and one number, "Old Dreams Waiting to be Realized," reaching almost 20 minutes. Aggressive, experimental and often challenging, the album blends the uneasy listening of Tomorrow, In A Year with the experimental electro of their previous releases, tying the two together with themes surrounding gender roles, feminism and sexual politics in a way that brings to mind other difficult and conceptual artists such as Scott Walker. However difficult the album may be, it's a rare pleasure to see artists who know how to make great pop songs eschewing expectations, growing beyond their previous oeuvre and audience to pursue a brave creative path into genuine 21st century music. One thing you can bet on is that Sony Bravia won't be licensing an acoustic cover of any of these tracks for their next big screen ad, and if you've read the Knife's recent anti-corporate, anti-establishment press releases, they're fine with that. (Mute)