Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Knife: Shaking the Habitual [Mute, 2013]
Surrounded and set up by bizarro-world electronic "dance" music as engaging as prime Burial and playful to boot, even the arty stuff signifies--sometimes as soundscape and sometimes as slap upside the head, as in the scraped cello-I-think of "Fracking Fluid Injection." The one exception, the 19-minute electronic-drone-with-apostrophes "Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized," isn't calming or trancey, just an inoffensive tune-out. Conveniently, however, that one's a bonus track even if neither band nor label advertise it as such--available only on a two-CD "deluxe edition" whose sole additional attraction is a comic book satirizing the superrich, who I guess they figure won't think twice about buying it. Poor me recommends the single disc, an hour and a quarter of music that's the opposite of inoffensive--an exciting, multivalent Dreijer sibling showcase. Karin provides saving shades of humanity by exercising the vocal cords nature gave her. But Olof's imagination, sense of humor, and bent rebop carry the day. A