Sweden is probably one of the most gifted countries in the world when it comes to music. No matter which genre you talk about the conclusion is the same: they have some brilliant artists. Fever Ray is no exclusion to this rule.
After she got a huge popularity with The Knife, Karin Dreijer Andersson took a break during which time she decided to record a solo album under the name Fever Ray. And that’s how one of the finest ambient/trip hop albums ever was born. There is not a single song that stands out among the others because all of the songs form one strong offering that is better than the sum of its parts. The music can be basically characterized as an ambient synth pop, but that is like saying that Pagani Zonda is a sports car. From the opening If I had a heart you will notice the general minimalistic style that dominates through the whole record. Synths, beats, and samples, in addition with Karin’s voice, make something that is at the same time primal and postmodern, minimal and complex, light and dark, cold and warm. In the modern world of overproduction, this is a really rare gem. The songs have that claustrophobic, cold feel that can be characterized like being in an igloo during the polar night, waiting for the sun to come but at the same time wishing that the night last just a little bit longer. If you have problems with imagining that scene just listen to Keep the Streets Empty for Me during a night walk through some part of the town deserted of people. There’s also a constant change of tempo and song structure in every track, so when listening to this record for the first time you will be amazed for the fact that every single song have its unique identity. It’s amazing, especially because many modern albums are just a bunch of fillers with a couple of potential tracks that stand out with quality. From the cold and dark If I Had a Heart, through the fantastically layered Coconut this album takes the listener to a journey that he’ll want to repeat again and again. And what to say about When I Grow Up a tune that sounds like it came from some demented genius, its lyrics so simple but at the same time so perplexing. Or Seven, an ambidextrous track that make you feeling confused about your own emotions while listening to it. Lyrics are abstract, surreal, they fit perfect with the music, making this album a true form of art, something that, like every masterpiece looks simple on the outside but in its core it hides many layers that are not easily spotted or understood at the first glance.
There are ten tracks on the record and the length of it is just under fifty minutes, but it feels much shorter because the time just passes faster when you listen to it. The only bad thing about this record is the fact that Karen never recorded another album as Fever Ray, which can be a bummer if you like this one because you can’t help but imagine what she could do next every time while listening to this masterpiece.
As I said before there are no tracks that stand out because every song is superb, but Keep the Streets Empty for Me is really something unrepeatable in the music world.