Reviews

Fever Ray “Radical Romantics” Album Review

Radical Romantics

Fever Ray

  • Genre: Alternative
  • Date: 10 Mar, 2023
  • Content: Not-explicit
  • Region: NGA
  • Track(s): 10
  • ℗ 2022 Rabid Records under exclusive license to [PIAS]

The new album “Radical Romantics” follows up on four excellent albums as one-half of the electronic duo the Knife and a pair of ground-breaking solo projects in an almost resignation-like manner: making an effort even as it seems to realize that it might not live up to one’s most ebullient expectations. It’s challenging to avoid the impression that the album is grappling with the issue of where a creative individual like Dreijer can go from here, both implicitly and explicitly.

“Radical Romantics” has a subversive vein that elevates it above simply being excellent pop. Although avoiding trite platitudes, their unashamedly queer lyricism frequently acknowledges the multifaceted ways that queer and trans people must live in the face of oppression and danger. The 10 songs on “Radical Romantics” are jam-packed with disturbing but frequently amusing stream-of-consciousness observations by Dreijer. Even within the same song, images painted aren’t always immediately connected, yet their evocative nature remain present.

Album Cover Art

Fever Ray &Quot;Radical Romantics&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, March 3, 2024

Karin strikes a pose for a pretty striking portrait shot. They are covered in white makeup and dressed in a lovely grayish suit, blue-stripe tie to go with, and a pair of white hand gloves, as they stare on sweetly. The face makeup comprising of gold and white with traces of gray, may appear a tad weird at first glance, but another steady look gives it a colorfully intriguing vibe, which is further rubbed in by their swooning smile that can be related to only by Radical Romantics.

Tracks and Features

Particularly bouncy, vivacious tracks like “Shiver” and “New Utensils” are full of nuances like the screaming voices that are looped and beautifully assimilated into the beat on “Shiver,” clattering up against its thrumming bass end. To evoke the desire for physical touch that penetrates both songs’ lyrics, crisp, three-dimensional sounds are used in both. On “Kandy,” there are traces of the thin, melancholy synths from the Knife’s “Pass This On” and the erratic heartbeat from Fever Ray’s “If I Had a Heart,” but the song never completely emerges from Dreijer’s earlier work.

The synth-driven musical environments created by those earlier tracks are equal parts forlorn, haunting, and melancholy; in contrast, “North” and the seven-minute “Bottom of the Ocean” feel rickety and flimsy. In the upbeat track “Carbon Dioxide,” which features odd, piercing string work by Rakhi Singh and Seb Gainsborough to serve as a counteragent to the song’s persistent synth-pop pulse, Dreijer does delve into some new sonic territory.

In another song on the album, “Even It Out,” the first of two collaborations with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, an electric guitar runs wild. The song’s humorous lyrics, which are Dreijer’s tirade against a boy named Zacharias who mistreated their child in school and whom the singer practically fantasizes about gleefully murdering, are a big part of why it resonates.

The album shines when Fever Ray uses music to communicate without using words, as in the album’s quiet and seething finale “Bottom of the Ocean”. Wordless vocalizations are repeated throughout the song over ambiance-enhancing synth sounds. The voice of Fever Ray cries out in a sequence of beseeching oh-s. Despite being a vocal performance centered on a single sound, it seems comprehensive and emotionally packed. Fever Ray’s talent is perfectly captured in this seven-minute epilogue.

Tracklist

NO TITLE TIME
1 What They Call Us 4:27
2 Shiver 4:35
3 New Utensils 4:17
4 Kandy 4:07
5 Even It Out 3:07
6 Looking For a Ghost 3:39
7 Carbon Dioxide 4:51
8 North 4:04
9 Tapping Fingers 3:57
10 Bottom of the Ocean 7:06

Album Theme

With their captivating new album, “Radical Romantics,” Karin Dreijer, better known by her stage as Fever Ray, addresses the astounding truth that hypocrisy is at the heart of contemporary relationships. The album explores the tension between the secretive nature of desire and intimacy and the astonishing degree of interconnectedness in modern society.

Production Credits

Aasthma, Atticus Ross, Johannes Berglund, Karin Dreijer, Nídia, Olof Dreijer, Trent Reznor & Vessel produced the album.

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