"Silent Shout feels like the perfect soundtrack to a horror story about deformed teenagers," said Sweden's Aftonbladet when the members of the Knife released their third record, Silent Shout, earlier this year to their primary market in Europe. "Wait!" you cry, having only heard of the Knife a few months back. "A horror story? Deformity? What happened to the Eurodisco of Deep Cuts? That shit got my groove going!"
Olof Dreijer and Karin Dreijer Andersson plan to be more than just the sum of Deep Cuts' parts and the original songwriters of Jose Gonzalez's "Heartbeats." In an act successfully maneuvered only a few times before -- Radiohead's jump into Kid A, Caribou's transition from Start Breaking My Heart to Up in Flames -- the Dreijer siblings have decided to follow up their massively popular record with, well, something different: darkness. There is not a single song on this record that will be played on dance floors. If you were expecting Deep Cuts II: The Knife Strikes Back, this record will do little more than disappoint you.
So, is Silent Shout the Knife's Up in Flames or its Without Feathers?
Silent Shout doesn't have the disappointments that Deep Cuts has, but that album's lows were overpowered by the memorable songs throughout. And Silent Shout is consistent, but like an essay written for a scientific publication as opposed to Ralph Steadman's obscene and grotesque but often brilliant images (which do vary in quality), it lacks those moments of pure inspiration that were all too present in its predecessor.
As an exploration of darkness and electro-pop's reach into this realm, Silent Shout succeeds on a number of levels. "We Share Our Mother's Health," "Marble House" and "The Captain" are by far the standouts, all testaments to the abilities of their composers, brief looks through the duo's eyes. If songs such as "Forest Families" had been fleshed out to their full potential instead of bowing out after an impressive but not phenomenal performance, Silent Shout would be one of those records that only comes along every once in a while. But too many songs here are good without being memorable, too much of the record is filled with meandering.
Karin's voice is processed too much, not given the freedom and power those of us familiar with her contribution to Röyksopp's "What Else Is There?" (think Bjork meets the childlike voices of Kristín Anna and Gyða Valtýsdóttir) are aware of. Far too often her voice is put through a vocoder, multi-tracked, and treated by various other electronic procedures. The result is that one of the group's main talents is stifled and limited.
Being half Swedish and having lived in Sweden for a decent portion of my life, I have watched the Knife develop into the electronic behemoth the band is today. I watched as the duo matured, and I expected Silent Shout to overshadow Deep Cuts more than it does. Silent Shout is quite an accomplishment; it just doesn't floor me the way "Pass This On" did on a drunken evening in Stockholm.
Rabid Records: http://www.rabidrecords.com/
Mute Records: http://www.mute.com/Audio: http://www.myspace.com/theknife
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