In hindsight, The Knife’s shadowy electro-pop hits “Silent Shout” and “Heartbeats” were something of a ruse. Since releasing those relatively accessible tunes, the Swedish duo has challenged audiences, first by collaborating on an opera and now with their fourth studio album, Shaking the Habitual.
- The Knife
- Shaking the Habitual
Less a collection of linear songs than a series of seething rhythmic sculptures—and, at times, a collection of wild animal sounds—the 13-song album features unsettled vocal murmurs and shrieks, geometric electronic beats, clammy ambient noise and blocky digital programming. The dense new-wave prog of Tears for Fears is an influence (“A Tooth for an Eye”), as is Björk’s abstract later-era work (the shapeshifting, icy disco wobble “Stay Out Here”). But Shaking the Habitual excels most when it evokes harrowing scenes: “Full of Fire” techno stomps through tar; “Networking” twitches like an electrocution and “Fracking Fluid Injection” feels like a neo-classical zombie attack. It’s compromising and bewitching, but also compulsively listenable.