The Knife - Deep Cuts
22nd Oct 2004
If you haven't heard anything at all from The Knife, then I suggest that before you read any more of this review you visit The Knife website and download the video for Pass This On (13MB I'm afraid). This song is a belter equally matched by the quality video (sporting some compelling dancing). After my first viewing I was entranced!
Had a listen yet? Ok... on with the review.
As a whole "Deep Cuts" is a strangely beguiling album... together siblings Karin and Olof Dreijer (from Stockholm in Sweden) have produced a slightly left-field but infectious, melodious and quite brilliant album. It's brilliance is not immediately realised though; only with repeated listens can you appreciate it's subtle qualities.
When listening to any music I usually draw comparisons with other artists in order to contextualise them. The Knife context then: they have clearly been influenced by Kate Bush, as they admit on their site and as result a few of their songs have a favourable eighties flavour, like "Pass This On" and "You Take My Breath Away". In contrast songs like "Listen Now" and "Is It Medicine" balance the retro sound with harder disco beats and these remind me of my current electro faves Ellen Allien and Swayzak. Ultimately though they are quite difficult to label.
Vocals are shared and thankfully Karin leads on the majority of the tracks and as a result those particular tracks are significantly better during the first few listens. Numbers lead by Olaf take time to appeciate. Earlier Olaf-lead compositions like "Handy-man" (included as a bonus track) remind me desperately of Oasis... which of course is not a good thing. In particular the closing track "Hangin' Out" is diabolical; the lyrics are crap and it ends the album on a bum-note. Luckily as I listen to most of my music on my PC, I just lopped off this final track from my playlist and this improved the album 100%. So now, on my altered version, the final track is "Behind The Bushes", which should have been the official closing track. It pleasantly reminds me of "40 Years Back/Come" from the Royksopp album "Melody AM": both instrumental numbers share a warm and subdued feel, which can be a nice way to close an album sometimes.
Other standout tracks include "Rock Classics", where Karin's Swedish-English sounds remarkably like Edith Piaf, and album opener "Heartbeats", which is undoubtedly the masterstroke of the album. "Heartbeats" has a naggingly clawing groove... which, if you listen to albums on repeat, will soon have you listening again and again. This is pertinent point here, a vital ingredient for any album: a strong opening track encourages repeated listens. So, if you're like me, and you listen to albums repeatedly, the sequencing of the album is vital to it's overall success. Not just the way track 1 segues into track 2 or track 2 segues into track 3, but how the closing track segues into the opening track. When the final tracks finishes with it melancholic strings and then the first track kicks in, I'm gripped all over again...
Rating: 8/10 (after 30+ listens)