I heard my favourite album of the year in January, just thirteen days into the 365. Released as a digital download on 13 January, my only insight into Fever Ray, Karin Dreijer Anderson’s first solo record outside of the Knife, was its stark cover – Dreijer flanked against a paranormal lanscape of decrepit huts and overgrown wilderness.
By the end of the night I’d played Fever Ray four times, each time letting the ghostly, crow-black synths and temptuous beats scurry a bit more under my skin. Each time pushing sleep’s promise a little further away in favour of another exploration of that strange, addictive wilderness.
It wasn’t until its official release in March that I found out how fitting this first meeting was. Fever Ray was created in the months around the birth of Dreijer’s second child, a time when she found herself continually exhausted. Sleep and awake literally carved up into interrupted patterns with no control. The Knife’s chilling electronics have sometimes felt like the mystery between sleep and awake, but this time Dreijer fully entered the realm, choosing the actual exhausted moments of her new parent self to document when reality and imagination tease each other.
The result was an album that seemed hesitant to emerge into the sunlight; the perpetual cycle of sleep exhaustion when everything seems in slow motion, far too powerful to leave behind. A dream-like state of awake slipping into an anxious state of sleep. I’ve always felt there’s something both addictive and melancholy in those moments, explored late at night, when times seems to slow down, when you’re actually too tired to sleep.
Pitchfork said this week there’s a strong case to be made that Fever Ray is the Music Video Artist of the Year. In fact I think it’s been a long time since an artist has been so consistent in producing such descriptive, fitting videos. Images that echo Fever Ray’s beautiful, haunting music. Scurrying under your skin. Licking your neck like a black dog on your shoulder.
Fever Ray’s latest video, for Keep the Streets Empty, is below. I’ve added the other videos as well.
Keep the Streets Empty For Me – Directed by Jens Klevje and Fabian Svensson
If I Had a Heart – Directed by Andreas Nilsson
When I Grow Up – Directed by Martin de Thurrah
Triangle Walks – Directed by Mikel Cee Karlsson
Seven – Directed by Johan Renck
Stranger Than Kindness – Directed by Andreas Nilsson