The Knife Review: Shaking The Habitual

The Knife

Shaking the Habitual

shaking the habitual

Sometimes one of my favorite artists pisses me off so much, I have to wait awhile to even talk about it.  I don’t want to be overly hyperbolic and just rip them apart without sitting on my feelings for awhile.  So, even though The Knife’s Shaking The Habitual came out weeks ago, I am now ready to properly evaluate it, devoid of my initial reactionary response.  Boy am I glad I waited.

The early returns on Shaking The Habitual were very positive, starting with the release of “Full of Fire” in late January, and then “A Tooth For An Eye” coming out mid-March.  I discussed both tracks shortly after “Tooth” came out here, reaffirming my excitement for the upcoming LP.  Then the full-length album hit our dropbox, courtesy of who I can’t remember, and I excitedly opened it in my iTunes.  What followed was one of the most frustrating music-listening experiences of my life.  The two tracks listed above kick off the album, with “A Tooth For An Eye” taking the lead.

What follows the opening two tracks though, is a smattering of short atmospheric pieces (less than a minute), long atmospheric pieces (19+ minutes in one instance), and actual songs meant to be listened to and enjoyed.  The Knife has always been a progressively experimental outfit, but some of what we experience on Shaking The Habitual is just too much.  The inclusion of the 19-minute white noise trash heap “Old Dreams Waiting to be Realized” is an offense to the listener.  There is zero cohesive substance holding the piece together, except that it makes you want to drive your car into a light-pole (Note: don’t listen to this album while driving).  Similarly, “Fracking Fluid Injection” and “A Cherry on Top” are atmospheric messes, but it mercifully comes in at under ten minutes (but not by much actually).

These three messy tracks make Shaking The Habitual unlistenable in its entirety, and its really a shame they were included.  The remainder of Shaking The Habitual is interesting, even if not living up to the the heights of Deep CutsSilent Shout, or Karin Dreijer Andersson’s solo project, Fever Ray.  Individual tracks like “Ready to Lose”, which is highlighted by a simpler less muddled arrangement and Dreijer Andersson’s clean vocals, harken back to what made The Knife so enjoyable on previous offerings.  In addition, “Raging Lung” with its tasteful use of steel drum and haunting horns, belongs in the upper-echelon of The Knife’s catalog, even if it does get a little long-winded.

And that may be the problem with Shaking The Habitual.  The Knife may have finally gotten too cute for themselves, making the entire production less enjoyable.  My recommendation is to cut out the three worthless atmospheric tracks I hit on above, and see what you think of the rest of the album.  I kinda like it, and will at least find myself hitting several of the tracks in the future.

5.5/11

Can’t Miss:  “A Tooth For An Eye”, “Ready to Lose”, “Full of Fire”, “Raging Lung”

Can’t Hit:  “Old Dreams Waiting to be Realized”, “Fracking Fluid Injection”, “A Cherry On Top”

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