Since I reviewed the 19 minute song from this album yesterday I thought I’d check out the rest of the disc (still a handful). I kept bearing in mind that The Knife are pretty much a dance duo. So this departure is not only radical, it pretty much undercuts the kind of music they make. The progress is probably exciting but I imagine fans would turn away in droves. I wonder how this record will play out for them in the long run. Incidentally, I wasn’t a fan before, so I don’t really have a horse in this race.
“A Tooth for an Eye” opens the record with an interesting percussion sound an a pulsing keyboard melody. The keening vocals come in sounding weird and distant and more than a little eerie. “Full of Fire” is a 9-minute song with a weird skittery “melody” that seems to float above the battered mechanical “drum.” The whispered vocals are strained and also a little creepy. The middle section has the skittery music jump around while the vocals get even more processed—making it simultaneously more friendly and less so. It’s probably the coolest weird song on the disc, with parts that are catchy and interesting and parts that are just peculiar. This is the single, by the way.
“A Cherry on Top” is 8 minutes of reasonable quietude, with the second half introducing an autoharp. It’s certainly the most mellow thing on the disc. Although it’s not exactly relaxing. “Without You My Life Would Be Boring” seems like it should be the single—it is propulsive and while the vocals are certainly odd, they are the most conventional thing on the album. “Wrap Your Arms Around Me” has big electronic pulsing drums and whispered vocals. It’s a fairly normal sounding song (at least for this album), and could easily play in a goth club.
“Crake” is 55 second of squalling feedback. The album also has “Oryx” which is 37 second of wailing noise. In between is the 10 minute “Raging Lung” which is not available on Spotify. “Networking” a skittering beat with a second beat that may just be a sample of a person making noise in his or her throat. The “voices” get stranger throughout the song, keening, twisting and spinning, reminiscent of The Art of Noise.
“Stay Out Here” is a ten minute song. It starts with a fairly standard electronic drumbeat. Whispered vocals come in giving it a kind of Nine Inch Nails vibe, until the female vocals come in (and are quickly manipulated to sound kind of male). The switch from male and female vocals is interesting, giving it an almost modern sounding Dead Can Dance feel.
“Fracking Fluid Injection” has sounds like scraping, rusted gates as the beat with sampled voices overlaid. Again, this is nearly 10 minute long. The problem with things like this, aside from their relative tediousness, is that they aren’t all that original. Now originality is nothing to hold a band to, we all know, but if you’re going to do non-form sounds that are echoed with little else to it, it would be more interesting if there was something original to pin to it. “Ready to Lose” ends the album with a steady beat and a pretty standard vocal line (even if the voices are processed).
So this album us a pretty radical departure for the band and it’s a pretty radical departure for dance music as a whole. I’m curious to see if this will lead to a anything or if this will be their one weird album.
[READ: April 15, 2013] “The Furies”
The story opens with a rather creepy man stating at his wedding reception that he is in an exclusive club: “There are not too many men who can say that they’re older than their father-in-law.” Ew. He was fifty-eight, his new wife 31. His father-in-law is 56. The father-in-law seems okay with this, but really how could he be?
Ray is a dentist and his new wife, Shelly, had been his hygienist for years. When Shelly told him she was thinking of getting a new job, he professed his love for her, and informed his wife, Angie that he was in love with Shelly. Angie took it badly, but he was surprised when she seemed mad that he didn’t do this years earlier while she still had a chance to meet someone (rather than being distraught that he was leaving her). As a parting shot she says that she wishes him ill. And she hope he suffers with the woman who took him from her.
But they had no children, just assets, and things were divided evenly and cleanly. And he thanked his lucky starts to be with a new woman, someone who was fun and so different from his first wife.
His and Shelly’s first argument came when he said he wanted to take her to his high school reunion (the fortieth). She did not want to go, no doubt realizing that he was showing off his new trophy (who math tells us was not even born when he graduated). But she agreed and they headed off to Medford, MA.
Now it was clear that things were going to go bad at the reunion. But it was surprising just how bad. The first women he meets remember him, but when he tries to be casually fun, they instantly bring up bad memories. And that’s when they start telling stories about way back in school. How he got fresh with some of the girls, had indiscretions, and never followed up on any of them. Oh, and don’t forget, Angie was their friend too.
I feared that the story was going to be one litany of school abuse after another, but Ray sees the writing on the wall and quickly leaves, tail between his legs.
But he is not totally thwarted, he takes Shelly to the makeout point, reminiscing about old hookups. I find this pretty creepy, but she seems to like the idea and begins to undress. They are soon interrupted, not by the police, but by one of Ray’s old girlfriends who followed them up there to berate him for how badly he treated her back in school.
Ray and Shelly take off and head back to the hotel (the same one where the reunion is going on) where more women track him down—even calling his room to yell at him. His last refuge in the morning is a tour of his old home, but as soon as he pulls up the next door neighbor is there, looking old and decrepit and Shelly knows that he must have had something to do with her as well.
The reunion had been a bad idea. They were both angry and it was time to get home and start fresh. But when they arrive home, there’s a note from a woman named Ellie. He lies (his first to her) and say he doesn’t know an Ellie. But as they round the house, they see that a woman is sitting on the porch. It’s not Ellie, it’s someone else who is also mad at him.
Shelly was very angry with him. She slept in another room. And then she complained that when he saw those women he thought that they looked old and ugly, but she thought that they all looked just like him. The story comes to a head with one final visitor. She tells him something about his ex-wife, but his current wife is not convinced.
The story was very dark and kind of funny (in a twisted way). And I was delighted how what I thought was going to be a series of women complaining about him, turned into a more introspective and somewhat supernatural look at how harming people can come back to haunt you.