And all this time Silent Shout seemed dark and dangerous.
Fever Ray, the solo project from Karin Dreijer Andersson—half of Swedish brother-sister electronic duo The Knife—turns that pair’s 2006 breakout disc into a summery romp by comparison. No dalliance with the shadows here. Prepare to be fully enveloped.
Like Portishead’s Third, Fever Ray is all about texture and mood. Don’t expect electro-pop treats like “We Share Our Mother’s Health” and “Like a Pen.” This time, Andersson and her producers aren’t interested in making you dance; they want to make you feel—extremely uneasy, apparently. In the first moments of opener “If I Had a Heart,” a melancholy drone is joined by Andersson’s voice—or rather, a deeply pitch-shifted version thereof—husking the words, “If I had a heart I could love you/If I had a voice I could sing.” Creepy, and then some.
Even amidst the blackness, though, it’s not all gloom and doom, Andersson’s naturally Björk-ish tone emerges on “When I Grow Up,” playfully imparting, “I’m very good with plants/When my friends are away/They let me keep the soil moist.” Call it fun in the shade. And that’s how it is throughout Fever Ray. When Andersson duets with her lower incarnation on the disquieting “Dry and Dusty,” it’s almost too unsettling to enjoy—until some light sneaks in, via a glimmer of buoyant melody. Still, don’t go thinking Fever Ray will brighten your day. Because just when you’re humming along to the chirpy “Triangle Walks,” along comes the dirge of “Concrete Walls”—and its aptly despairing lyrics, “Eyes are open and mouth cries/Haven’t slept since summer.”