Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Silent Shout

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The Knife
Rabid, 2006

fans of dark, dour, and somewhat challenging synthpop.
Sounds Like: Depeche Mode fronted by
Bjork remixed by Xiu Xiu for the club.
Listen: The Knife - Neverland

It appears in the ever-saturated internet music review market, the race for the scoop is about as essential and urgent as it is in mainstream news media. Silent Shout, still weeks shy of a proper release date, has already been reviewed everyone's favoriteindependentt tour de force. So, mildly interested, I have little recourse other than to start checking around. You know how these things go; a quick introduction, one thing leads to another, the album finds its way to my hard drive, and next thing I know its going to start talking about marriage or child support payments before I even have a chance to drop my cash proper. And those imports are expensive too.

So, right. The album. First, I'm going to take a stab at this, and proclaim this album to have the finest vocal manipulations of the year. The only competition I can see coming up is if Kevin Oglive happens to drop an album in some form or another in the next ten months, and even then, it would be close. Vocalist Karin Dreijer Andersson's voice sounds like Bjork got into a fight with Skinny Puppy: alternately gorgeous and harshly menacing.

While the instrumental arrangements on this album openly wear a European house music influence, the prominencece of the vocals in the mix, instrumentation, arrangement, and excellently crafted hooks more rapidly echo the darker side of pop music. "One Hit" shows that having a Depeche Mode influence can actually be a positive trait, while "Neverland" could easily find its way to Xiu Xiu on your next Wrist Slittin' Mix (Volume 7: October All Year), and might even encourage some gothic dancing. In that vein, "Like A Pen" and "We Share Our Mother's Health" sound destined for EBM radio feeds.

Ultimately, Silent Shout is not a groundbreaking, must-have album, and may have trouble finding a niche. Its too house to appeal to Joe Synthpop, the vocal manipulations are too outlandish for most people who are attracted to vocals in dance music, and is too inconsistently dance-able to appeal to connoisseursrs of "obscure Europeanan electro." Especially given the inflated import price, I expect a lot of one-download stands in this album's immediate future, followed by some bastard 12" singles in the months to come. Only, with offspring like this, you'll be glad you forgot the rubber.



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