Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Knife

  • Silent Shout [Rabid/Mute, 2006] A-
  • Shaking the Habitual [Mute, 2013] A

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Silent Shout [Rabid/Mute, 2006]
Celebrating the lighter side of alienation, the cunning Olof Dreijer elbows comely synthesizer tunelets with sharp synthesizer beatlets as his wacky sister Karin applies a kiddie screech to various bad things. Exactly what these are is hard to say because the lyrics resist parsing as sound and sense. But the musical construction is so jaunty that they can't be serious even if they're cutting their alienated fans out of the joke. Dig it when Karin lowers her voice electronically and duets with herself. Good giggles are so rare in alt these days. A-

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

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