Fever Ray – Plunge

Endlessly innovative, Plunge befits the return of an iconic creative voice

Album Review by Katie Hawthorne | 03 Nov 2017
Album title: Plunge
Artist: Fever Ray
Label: Rabid Records
Release date: 27 Oct

“Listen! I’m looking for a girl who stands 10 feet tall and has teeth like razors; I’m looking for a girl who could play the bored receptionist in the lobby of the afterlife, crossing the river of forgetting every morning and evening and back into the world of the living, where I will wait with flowers and an assortment of adult toys. Could this be you? I’m looking for a girl to affirm my reality, or cancel it. Me: I am beautifully dressed. I am a reflective surface. I am the president. Welcome to my body, my building, the border.”

This paragraph fits roughly in the middle of an astonishing essay that accompanies Plunge, Karin Dreijer’s second solo record as Fever Ray. Over the album’s eleven tracks, Dreijer explores love as a multi-faceted, radical state: vital, physical and sensual, intimate, ferocious and queer. Dreijer’s bodily desires and stickiest fantasies are laid out as a landscape, and one over which she exercises full autonomy: this is her body, these are her boundaries.

Dreijer’s musical career has long been defined by music that’s viscerally and intellectually powerful. As one half of The Knife, with her brother Olof, she spent fifteen years redefining Sweden’s electronic scene. Under her solo moniker, a self-titled debut in 2009 established the sound of her own unique world. Critics almost unanimously described it as glacial, and the record eschewed floor-fillers for a nuanced, introspective sonic universe.

Plunge draws on all this and more. But this time the ice has thawed, and we’ve hit boiling point. A true, audacious trip, the album squirms and twists, transforming from one thing to another – but without losing sight of its focus. Joined by six co-producers, mostly new, some long-standing collaborators (Johannes Berglund, for one), on each track Dreijer’s vision takes on new hues, and throws down new surprises. Opener Wanna Sip asks, then asserts: 'Wanna do it? If we do it, it’s my way.'

Tucked in five tracks deep, IDK About You makes you release that, until this point, Plunge has been comparatively tame. Portuguese percussion master NÍDIA brings beats that are rapid and brittle, shamelessly thrilling, and Dreijer skims over them, whipping this party into a frenzy. This Country doubles down with an astonishing anthem that rails against the indignity of a government dictating who, and how, and where we fuck: 'Free abortions! Clean water! Destroy Nuclear!' she yells, 'Every time we fuck we win!'

To the Moon and Back, the record’s first single, is a gleeful, filthy catch-up on Dreijer’s life. 'Hey, remember me? / I’ve been working like crazy!' she gushes, before detailing precisely what kind of personal development she’s referring to: 'Can you imagine? First I take you then you take me / Breathe some life into a fantasy! / I want to run my fingers up your pussy.'

Endlessly innovative – check the skittering, robotic violin on Red Trails, played by Sara Parkman – Plunge befits the return of an iconic creative voice. Dreijer’s politics are written on her body, and she’s asking you to dive in. You won’t need telling twice.

Listen to: Wanna Sip, This Country, Red Trails