Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Sunday, May 26
The Indiana Daily Student

'Shaking the habitual:' The Knife brandishes a new blade

Shaking the Habitual: album art

In a Pitchfork interview, Karin Dreijer Andersson admitted she and bandmate Olof Dreijer considered changing The Knife’s name for new album “Shaking the Habitual.”

I wouldn’t blame them. The band’s first proper album in seven years is a different kind of beast than “Silent Shout” and “Deep Cuts.”

The closest things we get to The Knife of “Heartbeats” and “We Share Our Mother’s Health” are the album’s stellar opener and closer: “A Tooth For An Eye” and “Ready To Lose.” But even these relatively short and pop-like bookends are driven by a darker sense of restlessness, an unease that creeps in at the heart of the album.

There was always something haunting, even sinister, about The Knife, but the band never sounded as pissed off as it does now.

The lyrics here directly address gender and class politics more with teeth-baring intensity than in previous releases.

At more than 90 minutes, “Shaking the Habitual” will probably piss you off, too.

The 19-minute centerpiece “Old Dreams Waiting To Be Revisited” simmers with hissing found sounds and synth bursts. “Fracking Fluid Injection” stretches out 10 minutes’ worth of disorienting bird calls and distorted groans.

These songs recall the harsher stretches of the underrated opera “Tomorrow, In A Year,” The Knife’s 2010 collaboration with Mt. Sims and Planningtorock. They serve their purpose too: to make the audience question the album and their own listening habits.

The rest of the album emphasizes percussion above all else. The songs are at their most danceable when they’re at their most urgent. Epic single “Full of Fire” starts with a sparse dance beat and adds noise after noise until every element in the song is banging a lesson into your head.

Andersson’s words aren’t lost in the drums. Her by-now unmistakable voice and vocal effects snake through the clattering beats and shout the album’s political concerns with convincing clarity.

The words and music work together throughout to establish a cohesive emotional mood, just as ready and able to get us thinking as they are to get us moving.

This is The Knife we’ve been hearing all along, but now, more than ever, it’s a band committed to shaking things up — violently, if need be. “Shaking the Habitual” is a huge record, overflowing with forceful music designed to alienate its audience even as it draws us in.

By Patrick Beane

Get stories like this in your inbox
Subscribe