Boomkat Product Review:
Fever Ray returns, flanked by Vessel, Nídia, Olof Dreijer, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, Aasthma and Johannes Berglund on a 3rd solo album full of odd tunings and warped glam-dancehall-electro swag.
Karin Dreijer aka Fever Ray’s ‘Radical Romantics’ continues the queered outernational pop weltanschaaung of its predecessor across 10 songs that squirm with a brilliant blend of Scandi-pop chops and sexy, propulsive, offbeat club meter.
Now 22 years deep into her thing since debuting with The Knife in 2000, Dreijer is one of very few active artists equidistant to original late ‘70s synth-pop and experimental glam of, say Kraftwerk, YMO and John Foxx - or Roxy Music and Kate Bush - and their hyperpop offspring such as Hyd or SOPHIE. It’s not hard to hear how her work since ‘Plunge’ continues to keep that lineage alive by balancing a fresh influence of producers Nídia and Vessel with the timelessness of Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross or the uncanny symbiosis with her sibling, Olof from The Knife, resulting in a sort of hyperpop-adjacent sound sealed by her inimitable vocals and songwriting.
At the time of writing this we’re not privy to most of the production credits, but we can identify Olof’s tweaky Oni Ayhun-esque touch on the pensive opener ‘What They Cll Us’, and that’s clearly Vessel’s razor-plucked harpsichord on the instant club ace ‘Carbon Dioxide’. An educated guess tells us Príncipe’s Nídia is behind the squeaky batida groove to ‘New Utensils’ and possibly the tarraxho slunk of ‘Kandy’, and we’d wager Reznor & Ross are responsible for plangent synth ache of the album’s mantric closer ‘Bottom of the Ocean’.
Elsewhere your guess is as good as ours as to who did the goth glam trample of ‘Even It Out’, or the nithered tang to ‘North’, but it will all become clear in due course. It remains to be said that ‘Radical Romantics’ is class; an affective ode to queer love that prizes synth-pop’s perhaps unique capacity to express the ambiguity of gender fluidity and strength in vulnerability, while having a great time doing it.