Fever Ray: Plunge

- Good things come to those who wait, even if you were not expecting them. The Knife’s Karin Dreijer aka FEVER RAY surprised the world by dropping her second album under her side project’s moniker in the shadows of Hallowe’en. For all intents and purposes, Dreijer had finished with her solo project some seven years ago, however, like the season when the otherworldly pay a surprise and unannounced visit, here is an eleven track exploration of the world according to Dreijer.

Unmistakably Scandinavian in its execution, Plunge has all the echoes of what has made everything, from “Nordic Noir” film and television productions to Copenhagen’s Noma restaurant, the popular cultural markers of the early 21st century. Plunge is crisp, cool but not detached from the listener. Dreijer is known for pitch shifting her vocals, but this time not so much. This brings her right into the listeners’ space and at times it’s not so comfortable.

Previously, motherhood and the search for who you are was a template for the one and only album she provided for inspection. Seems all that is old hat – it’s all about fucking now. Dreijer’s freed a lot of her passions and kinks and one by one they inhabit the lyrics on Plunge. Take This Country – it’s a protest anthem for the permanently pissed off late millennials; “Free abortions / And clean water”, “Destroy nuclear / Destroy boring” and the pay-off, “Every time we fuck we win This house makes it hard to fuck This country makes it hard to fuck!” (Anyone who has suffered through Australia’s $122 million “Marriage Law Postal Survey” can concur.)

Echoes of what Björk has done vocally bring pleasing comparisons while listening to Plunge, as well as the melding of cute electronica and lyrics about loss and love that compatriot Robyn has delivered on occasion, such as the modern fable that is the third track on the album, A Part of Us. Further afield, the use of a rich sonic palette and uncompromising lyrical meaning, (especially on Red Tails, using a mesmerising violin part by Sara Parkman like a duet) brings favourable resonances of ANOHNI.

Plunge isn’t for the faint hearted, as the first single from the album, To The Moon and Back, pushes the listener into areas of the aforementioned kink (the accompanying video is particularly challenging), however, this should not scare the listener away. The jauntiness of the melody and the production applied to it is the perfect foil for the in-your-face lyrics.

For an unexpected album, Plunge rewards the listener who is willing to spend the time allowing the astringency of Dreijer’s vision to permeate their eardrums, and then into their mind. It wouldn’t be an album of Dreijer’s without a manifesto (Knife are famous for it), so with English writer Hannah Black she’s put up a raison d'être for Plunge – “The decision to fall is harder than the fall itself”. If the listener decides to go with Dreijer, there is no turning back, however, transformation is a better course in life than stagnation, and with Dreijer stagnation is as foreign a concept as cluttered lines in an IKEA furnished apartment featured in an episode of Wallander.

- Blair Martin.

 

Album Details

Album Title: Plunge
Artist: Fever Ray
Record Label: (MUTE)