By The Knife
Storming out of Sweden are brother and sister combo Olof and Kristin Dreijer, aka The Knife. Unlike other famous brother and sister combos, the music isn't thrashy garage rock, nor is it arty punk pop. The Knife have made a very strange sounding record indeed...
The computer moulded squeals and clicks, the booms and bips and the harsh synth blasts usually make for uneasy, but strangely compelling music (see Aphex Twin, Autechre, et al). However these two oddball Swedes have made a pop album out of these same ingredients that go into making tracks like the Aphex anthem 'Windowlicker'.
With the obvious bonus of a free DVD of all five videos, The Knife know value for money. Opener and recent single 'Heartbeats' is a deliciously sleazy take on the dubiously titled (and over - used) 'electro- clash' genre, with its sweeping square waves, its ultra processed weird vocals and its tinny drum beat. Pretty cool video too.
'Girls' Night Out' is a fast paced digital punk thing, with its breakneck speed (without being hands-in-the-air techno) and fierce synth noises, it's an interesting piece of electronica gone mad. Next track 'Pass This On' starts with some kettle drums (no, I'm not making this up) matched to some 808 beats, some creepy noises and the lyrical quirkiness of "I'm in love with your brother / What's his name?"
Whereas the other tracks on the album sound quite poppy and up beat, 'The Cop' must win the 'scariest sounding song of the year' award. And at being only 44 seconds long, wins it with style. It's basically some guy saying "I'm a cop, shut up" and threatening to kill people, but has been distorted and slowed down to half speed. Damn.
'Listen Now' drifts dangerously into Euro- pop territory, with it's frantic pace and cheesy synths, it's reminiscent of the stuff you hear on Euro Trash with Antoine de Caunes. Thankfully the rest of the record doesn't carry on like this, and with the beautiful downbeat 'Rock Classics', the sinister 'Is It Medicine' and the cinematic 'Behind the Bushes', the album reveals a lot more depth and quality.
Another prize for lyrical genius has to go to 'Hangin' Out', where the lines "I keep my dick hangin' outta my pants / so I can point out what I want" open the 58 second track.
On the DVD side of things, the videos are all pretty damn good. Shot with arty directors who know what they like and like what they know, the visual aspect of The Knife is a pleasant, if sometimes disorientating experience. The ultra stylish, if a little creepy video for 'The Handyman' will either make you laugh or scared, 'Pass This On' has a delightfully bizarre promo, and the animated video for the haunting 'NY Hotel' is just a little eerie. Add to the mix the sampling of old 60s video footage of kids surfing down a street on massive skateboards ('Heartbeats') and some crazy 80s retro weirdness ('Take My Breath Away') and you have a decent little package.