The Future’s Void v. Shaking the Habitual

Over the last couple of months, I’ve spent a bit of time with The Knife’s Shaking the Habitual, and there are compelling reasons to think that Shaking the Habitual is an important album. Musically, it moves forward from the already impressive Deep Cuts and Silent Shout; and their willingness to be mix abrasiveness into their music really adds something, maybe even brings it within striking distance of greatness in a real sense (and not just in a fleeting, internet fame sense). I think their willingness to take up political and social themes very explicitly and self-consciously is an important step forward; that said, their political stance on the album is fairly jejune. On balance, then, I think Shaking the Habitual is an important album, but hopefully foreshadows more cohesive, more mature work.

The Future’s Void is that cohesive, mature work for EMA, I think, and not just because it takes on broader themes. PLMS was a great album, but an album that was almost exclusively personal: conducive to empathy, but perhaps not to sympathy. The Future’s Void, by contrast, marries EMA’s willingness to take awkward, imperfect risks in her music and lyrics with some kind of broader reflection on where we are as a culture, in a way that still feels deeply personal; that perfectly captures, to me, the simultaneous hopefulness and possibility and emptiness and prettiness of internet culture at this particular moment.

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