Quality 2017 album finally gets a physical release…
Plunge is Karin Dreijer’s second solo album as Fever Ray and follows her band the Knife‘s purportedly final album, the appropriately named Shaking the Habitual. That album did just that, dividing opinion amongst listeners and critics alike with its no-holds-barred approach. Lyrically fearless (“Let’s talk about gender, baby”) and musically daring (a 20 minute ambient track half way through the record), it was followed by a tour that had more to do with interpretive dance than anything else. Dreijer’s first, self-titled Fever Ray record felt like a more distinct break from the Knife’s more danceable approach. It was a weird, wonderful, nocturnal album influenced as much by insomnia and new motherhood as anything musical. Plunge feels like it has more in common with Shaking the Habitual than Fever Ray but arguably better than both. While both of those records were impressive, Plunge is exceptional.
Single ‘To the Moon and Back’ is as close to pop music as Dreijer has come for years, a joyous slice of electro-pop that revels in newfound freedom. The song builds from “Hey, remember me/I’ve been busy working like crazy” in the first verse to “First I take you then you take me” and the brilliantly direct declaration “I want to run my fingers up your pussy” as the final line. This directness combined with the difference in production, her vocals sitting much higher in the mix and losing the pitch-shifting that defined Fever Ray are both very conscious decisions. In a rare interview with the Guardian Dreijer explained that her divorce led to her exploring her sexuality more and that Plunge is a reflection of this.
‘This Country’ throbs with frustration. “Tell me something sexy and I’ll log off my whatever” is the nonchalant opening line, before sloganeering: “Free abortions! Clean water! Destroy nuclear! Destroy boring!” and the closing lament that “This country makes it hard to fuck”. ‘A Part of Us’ touches on this same feeling of oppression and fear, beginning “Happy drunk, happy in a safe space” and ending “One hand in yours and one hand in a tight fist”. Even in a liberal country like Sweden, LGBTQ* people still face oppression. Gay marriage is one thing, but being able to express that sexuality openly without fear of aggression is another. Dreijer just wants to fuck, and who can argue with that?
Plunge is out now on Rabid Records.