A few weeks ago Neon started playing on my phone and it was like hearing The Knife for the first time. It’s probably been a good few months, even a year since I’d properly listened to The Knife’s old stuff. With their new album Shaking The Habitual about to be released on April 8th, I couldn’t help but want to write about music that I have grown up and that has been a part of my library ever since I heard them in 2006.
Neon which is off their self-titled album released in 2001 – I was eleven but later first heard it in 2006 – is, I believe, four minutes of some of the best music the Knife has released. It’s effortlessly simply, stripped back from some of the more complexity featured in the rest of their discography. It certainly does have you “coming back for more”. After listening to the rest of The Knife and their other albums it is hard to pick their ‘best’ songs. Each album is a new phase in their developing sound. The Knife got me hooked in part with the vocals, especially on A Lung. Karin Dreijer’s vocal distortion has kept me fascinated for years and it still does. I don’t know what it is about these lyrics but they have resonated with me:
You are Darth Vader
I know what you’re made of
You are like a lung
(And you were warmed by the sun) You’re looking for me
(By the sun) But it’s not what you seek
(By the sun) I’ve got a twisted personality
By the sun
You’re looking for me
But it’s not what you seek
I’ve got a twisted personality (A special kind of personality)
Deep Cuts is I guess their pop album. I’m not basing it on the fact they won a Grammy for Pop Group of the Year in 2003, but the fact that in terms of all their albums it is the most mainstream. That’s not to say I don’t think it’s a piece of brilliant music. It is. I’ve spent many days overplaying Deep Cuts, listening to those steel drums in Pass It On and You Take My Breath Away. The lyrics are, like with A Lung, words that when I hear them stick with me- “We are the people that’s come here to play ….We’re in the middle of something, we’re here to stay and we raise our heads to the colour red”. When Karin’s vocals play with Jenny Wilson’s ” I heard you for the first time on the radio…” in the second verse, it just fits so well. In a way it’s got a little RnB sound with the play between the vocals. To me it’s better than Heartbeat’s. The final song on Deep Cuts that got me is This is Now. It feels like it is a completely different style to the rest of the album with the arppegiator synth going right through with Karin’s vocals and not much else.
Sometimes Deep Cuts feels a bit mish mashed but in the end it’s brilliant. They continually experiment with their sound. Each album is a progression from the other and even within Deep Cuts you see their progression and experimentation – The Cop, Rock Classics, The Bridge. I stated at the beginning that Deep Cuts is perhaps their pop album,but looking back and re-listening to Deep Cuts I have no idea if it’s a pop album. If it is ‘pop’ it’s because of the success of Heartbeats.
Silent Shout was the first The Knife album I heard. I was sixteen when it came out in 2006, and was at that point when I would religiously go on Pitchfork and had also just discovered my love for electronic music. Where The Knife and Deep Cuts brought me a sense of similarity and unity with the lyrics, Silent Shout appealed and appeals to me because of the music. I’m twenty two now, and if you’ve seen my past posts, electronic music – specifically house and techno is now a favourite of mine, and what I listen to most. Without Silent Shout, I think I probably wouldn’t have developed as much of a love for electronic music. Silent Shout’s self-titled opening track was music that i’d never really heard before, but knew I was missing. Sounds ridiculous in a way but I’d always had a slight interest in electronic music, but had never known where to start and what to listen to. The Knife changed that. From Silent Shout I listened to to their previous albums and moved to searching for electronic music and begun to discover people like Four Tet, Apparat, Nathan Fake and The Field.
With the release of Shaking The Habitual in just over a week and my tickets for their 8th May show arriving today, I just can’t help but be excited.