Plunge by Fever Ray
And now for the strangest (and probably more divisive than Kendrick Lamar, musically) entry on the 2017 Top 31: Fever Ray. If you like Fever Ray, the band, then you’ve probably already latched onto this album and are loving it. If you don’t know who Fever Ray is, then prepare to be equally angered, frightened, and dumbfounded by what you’re about to hear. Maybe you’ll like it, maybe you won’t.
Fever Ray is the stage name of Karin Dreijer Andersson, who is half of the famed Swedish electronic brother-sister duo The Knife. The Knife had some amazing albums when they were together, and now Fever Ray carries the Swedish dark electronic torch. And boy does it get dark.
Her eponymous debut album made #18 on the 2009 Top 31, and here we are eight years later with Plunge. Andersson has a unique sound and voice that is unmistakably hers, and Plunge is no different. But within the album, she seems to be pushing things further, into more difficult territory, similarly to what Björk has been doing on her last few albums. But while Björk has managed to find a zone that is completely unlistenable to me, Fever Ray manages to pull it off a little bit better.
I only cringe a little when I’m listening to Plunge. But I do make a point to make sure no children are within earshot, as the music can get quite vulgar in addition to the darkness, with lines like that from the song “This Country,” which has the lovely line “This house makes it hard to fuck” and “This country makes it hard to fuck” repeated over and over and over again.
Fever Ray’s visual output is every bit as dark and interesting as the audio. The video above, for the song “To the Moon and Back,” you’ll notice, is labeled “Part III.” That’s because there were two disturbing, minute-long shorts that were released prior to the video (Part I: Switch Seeks Same and Part II: A New Friend).
I believe I’ll continue to listen and be intrigued by Fever Ray for the entirety of her musical career. And I doubt I’ll ever feel at ease about it. And somehow that’s a good thing.
22. DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
23. Capacity by Big Thief
24. The Tourist by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
25. CCFX EP by CCFX
26. Woodstock by Portugal. The Man
27. MASSEDUCTION by St. Vincent
28. On the Spot by Hot 8 Brass Band
29. A Deeper Understanding by The War on Drugs
30. Planetarium by Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, & James McAlister
31. A Moment Apart by Odesza