The Knife, Shaking the Habitual

It’s interesting to hear the Knife experiment a bit more with political criticism in their new album. Musically, the new album is really strong; but politically, it seems… jejune? Banal criticisms of consumerism, a sort of generic European call for collectivism (in A Tooth For An Eye, e.g.), a song about fracking, criticism of Monsanto (in the accompanying manifesto), etc.

This isn’t to say that I’m unsympathetic– I can work with it, let’s say– but neither is it a particularly sophisticated critique. Maybe there’s more there that I’m not seeing, but compared to the queer radicalism of Coil or the intensity of Laibach or even KMFDM, there’s something kind of… warmed-0ver? about the Knife’s new album.

I fall ever more in love with Grimes, and I think Grimes is doing such interesting things in pushing against musical expectations and playing around with representations of gender, and even using her tumblr account to connect at a fairly personal level with her fans; by contrast, the Knife seems sort of vieux jeu– high concept/sophisticated European music that critically bzw. obliquely engages with contemporary politics. I worry at some level that this kind of music is only going to reach those people who are positively disposed towards it.

I don’t know what the appropriate way to create politicized art is, to be honest, or the best way to come at political problems in my own life. But still.

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