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Like a Stab in the Back: The Knife's Shaking the Habitual


Oh man the new Knife rules! No it doesn't, it's crap. Are you kidding me, it's amazing. You mean terrible. No, I mean it's fantastic. It's boring. It's a work of art!

Okay, that was pretty much the conversation that transpired all week about the Knife's new album shaking the Habitual, not only in our office, but also online, in my Facebook feed, and just about everywhere else. It seems that no one can agree about whether the new album from Stockholm's electronic duo is a real stinker or a stroke of genius. We're torn here, and we won't tell you who thinks what, but we will tell you that some heated discussions have already transpired.

Okay, FACT. It's not as instantly accessible and weirdly wonderful as Silent Shout. But, then again, after they put out that opera, who was seriously expecting another Silent Shout? On the other hand, it seems obvious that the Knife has gone out of their way to weird out just about everyone, and perhaps that's not such a bad thing when it comes down to it. After all, it's easy to get comfortable with one's music, and it's easy to become a passive consumer of art. Even if we don't like the album, the effort to create something just that uneasy is to be applauded, if ever so quietly.

The Knife's Shaking the Habitual is available on triple-180-gram vinyl, 2CD, and CD editions.

And that is what I take the title to mean: the Knife wants to shake our habits, whether those be political or artistic, consumer habits or club-goer habits. The album itself may not exactly be the tower of electronic-pop perfection that we all wanted, but perhaps the Knife knew that, and perhaps they won't give us what we want. I'm not convinced that's a bad thing.

I hear huge Lassigue Bendthaus beats all over Full of Fire, and there are moments in the album that sound like JG Thirwell, Coil, and Raison D'Etre. Not that that makes it a good album, but those are pretty strong influences...

Perhaps the best call was made earlier this week by The Line of Best Fit: Shaking the Habitual is "an admirable pool of ideas, thrilling noises, rare, unpredictable melodies and a huge amount of imagination but to be brutally frank, it doesn’t encourage repeat listens." But then again, if we want to be serious about habit shaking, maybe repeat listens isn't what The Knife is after.