Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
on 29 July 2014
I'm a long time fan of The Knife, I think they're two of the most inspiring, intelligent, and talented musicians around, and i've enjoyed their side projects Fever Ray, Oni Ayhun, and the Darwin opera Tomorrow in a Year, which in many ways seems to be a precursor to this.
Shaking the Habitual can almost be split into two albums, first the more traditional Knife songs with beautiful lyrics and utterly amazing sounds, songs such as -
A Tooth for an Eye ~ surely one of the best tracks of the last few years
Full of Fire ~ where they mix gender politics with a (metaphorical) nine minute gun fight
Without You My Life Would be Boring
Wrap Your Arms Around Me
Raging Lung ~ one of a few songs which includes that scraping metal factory sound, wonderful
Ready To Lose
And secondly the more experimental and 'difficult' tracks, with few lyrics and a purer focus on sound, which would include -
A Cherry on Top
Old Dreams Waiting to be Realised
Stay Out Here
Fracking Fluid Injection
Whilst the first list is sure to be more crowdpleasing, the second is bound to disappoint many. Whilst the second list is full of interesting music and ideas, and seems very much a follow on from the long musical tracks found in Tomorrow in a Year, it lacks that albums clear concept, and therefore sometimes feels a bit aimless and indulgent, especially on the almost 20 minute track 'Old Dreams..' With the Darwin opera those sounds were perfectly matched to Darwin and the theory of evolution and the voyage into the natural world, but with this there isn't quite such a clear connect between sound and concept.
But actually to split the album apart into those two distinct factions is quite a violent act, they belong together, feeding off each other. There is a clear aesthetic which is apparent in every song throughout the album, and which is new and much more complex than any other Knife album.
It is an essential listen. It's not ambient music as some people seem to claim, ambient says to me 'background music' and this clearly requires attention, and it will slap you round the head until you give it. This is an album about contemporary life, on a social, personal and political level, and contains the most roaring and (i have no other word but) gorgeous and jarring sounds around. And maybe it's our shortcoming if we don't like it because it doesn't contain as many seductive pop beats as Silent Shout.