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Shame Is Going To Die


Fever Ray
Karin Dreijer Andersson
producers Karin Dreijer Andersson, Peder Mannerfelt, and Johannes Berglund
October 27th on Rabid Records

The sheer number of identities inhabited by Karin Dreijier Andersson — whether in her influential project with her brother, The Knife, or in this solo incarnation — makes any lyrical statement absolutely believable. On the last track of Plunge, "Mama's Hand", she has returned to her mother role. "We have no one to trust," she explains to her progeny. "I'm yours to rock in place, I write to be at ease." Finally, there is an explanation for being a chameleon — it is substantially more facile a project than sticking to one thing.

Andersson, who is married with two children, is less at ease on tracks like "IDK About You." Plunge finds her vocals more substantial than they have been in the past. This is both a blessing and a curse on the record, because while Dreijer Andersson comes across as more confident in her vocal ability, to some extent this confidence is misplaced. Still, when she echoes the restrained hum of a bassline, there is very little to fuck up, as on the album's sinister highlight, "To The Moon and Back."

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I should not be too hard on Dreijer Andersson's vocals, because in most ways they could suit the industrial, rapacious mood of her nightmares better. Her best vocal performance happens on "Falling", as she sings, not particularly convincingly, "You made me dirty again." Dreijier's aesthetic is meant to be political, and much of her lyrical efforts concern feelings of helplessness, anger and inequality that rationally consume all of our lives to some extent.

Although The Knife was a cohesive and engaging effort, it always felt like something of a side project. When Dreijer Andersson released her first album as Fever Ray eight years ago, a part of her shook loose. The producer of that album was the talented Christoffer Berg. He is gone, but Peder Mannerfelt returns to join newcomer Johannes Berglund, who mixed the album. 

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On "Mustn't Hurry", another high point for Plunge, Dreijer Andersson collaborates with the brilliant Paula Temple to create the album's genre-bending, defining track. She sings,

Drove out in the morning
Where shame is going to burn
Shame is going to die
I'm feeling weak
A beast to seek
Licking my fingers
Got the last crumb
My curiosity from the cavity
Is something to stick in

Given all that she has in life to be thankful for, you expect something other than the relentless dirge of the album's title track. Maybe Plunge as a whole gets closest to that on "Red Trails", when a violin emphasizes the chanting of the refrain. "Touching in the snow one day, laying low and kissing," she chants, in something of a celebration. Plunge is all about having total choice in the way we express ourselves, and if the album isn't exactly something you would put on to cheer yourself up, it is Dreijer Andersson's prerogative: "Blood was our favorite paint, you were my favorite pain." That she can derive such a meaningful darkness from these events is its own kind of joy.

Janice Levens is the music editor of This Recording.

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