Shaking the Habitual

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Shaking the Habitual
The Knife - Shaking the Habitual.png
Studio album by
Released5 April 2013 (2013-04-05)
Recorded2010–2012
StudioStockholm and Berlin
Genre
Length77:18 (1-disc version)
96:20 (2-disc version)
LabelRabid
ProducerThe Knife
The Knife chronology
Tomorrow, in a Year
(2010)
Shaking the Habitual
(2013)
Singles from Shaking the Habitual
  1. "Full of Fire"
    Released: 28 January 2013
  2. "A Tooth for an Eye"
    Released: 18 February 2013
  3. "Raging Lung"
    Released: 2 September 2013
  4. "Without You My Life Would Be Boring"
    Released: 20 May 2014

Shaking the Habitual is the fourth and final studio album by Swedish electronic music duo The Knife. It was released on 5 April 2013 by Rabid Records. The album was released as a double CD and triple LP,[2] and as a digital download. The album was lauded by critics at the time of its release and was featured on several critics' year-end lists.

"Full of Fire" was released as the album's lead single on 28 January 2013.[3] An accompanying short film was directed by Marit Östberg, who contributed a film to the 2009 Swedish feminist porn compilation Dirty Diaries.[4] The album's second single, "A Tooth for an Eye", was released on 18 February 2013,[5] for which a music video was directed by Roxy Farhat and Kakan Hermansson.[6] The duo embarked on the Shaking the Habitual Tour in support of the album, starting on 26 April 2013 in Bremen, Germany.[7]

Background[edit]

On 18 April 2011, it was announced that The Knife was recording a new album, initially set to be released in 2012, through a post on the duo's website about the housing rights of Romani people in Rome.[8] Shaking the Habitual was officially announced on 12 December 2012, along with a teaser video posted on YouTube.[9] The album was recorded in Stockholm and Berlin from 2010 to 2012.[10]

In October 2012, Shannon Funchess of Brooklyn-based electronic music duo Light Asylum revealed in interviews with Dazed & Confused and music blog No Conclusion that she would contribute vocals to a track on the album, with lyrics written by visual artist Emily Roysdon.[11]

For the artwork of Shaking the Habitual, the duo commissioned Malmö-based illustrator Liv Strömquist to design a comic book titled End Extreme Wealth that turns the right wing's discourse against the poor on its head, depicting the 1% as a culturally-impoverished and vermin-like "other". "It came out of the idea, 'How do we use the area of the record cover in the best political way?'" Olof Dreijer said. "It's about bringing focus to extreme wealth rather than poverty being the problem of the world."[12]

Themes and influences[edit]

Shaking the Habitual takes its title from a quote by French philosopher Michel Foucault.[13] The album is inspired by the duo's readings in feminist and queer theory,[14] while discussing environmentalism and structuralism.[15] Olof attended a course in gender studies at Stockholm University and shared his reading list with Karin.[16] On 9 April 2013, The Knife released a Marit Östberg-directed video titled "Shaking the Habitual – The Interview", explaining the process of making the album. They state, "What we do is political. That should be impossible to misunderstand."[17] They criticise the institution of the royal family and the nuclear family calling it "an institution that conserves inequality, injustice and exclusion", while advocating for living "in solidarity beyond nuclear families, nations and economical unions."[17] In an interview with Pitchfork, Karin suggested that "people would be happier sharing things and being much more of a collective rather than working from these neo-liberal ideas of just looking after yourself."[18]

The duo also criticise the "commercial homogenisation" of the music industry, saying it constitutes an "extremely hierarchical structure".[17] Speaking to The Guardian, Karin mentioned how music artists are "getting even more commercial because they are selling their music to advertisements and going on tours with big alcohol brands", and questioned "how music and art can continue to develop or challenge itself within these new, very commercial frames." They also spoke of authenticity and quoted philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler, who says, "We are always in drag".[16]

The video for "Full of Fire", among other things, questions a policy in Sweden that offers tax deductions for wealthy families who employ maids.[18] The line "I'm telling you stories, trust me" in the song "A Tooth for an Eye" is borrowed from Karin's favourite Jeanette Winterson book, The Passion (1987).[18] The interludes "Crake" and "Oryx" are named after characters in Margaret Atwood's 2003 dystopian novel Oryx and Crake.[15][19] "Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized" takes its title from an article written by Nina Björk for Swedish magazine Glänta.[20]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?8.0/10[21]
Metacritic85/100[22]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[23]
The A.V. ClubA−[24]
The Daily Telegraph4/5 stars[25]
The Guardian3/5 stars[15]
The Independent4/5 stars[26]
MSN Music (Expert Witness)A[27]
NME7/10[28]
Pitchfork8.4/10[19]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[29]
Spin9/10[30]

Shaking the Habitual received widespread acclaim from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 85, based on 43 reviews, which indicates "universal acclaim".[22] Robert Christgau of MSN Music praised the album as "an exciting, multivalent Dreijer sibling showcase".[27] Uncut's Rob Young wrote that Karin "possesses one of the most distinctive Scandinavian voices since Björk", referring to the duo's songs as "genetic pop mutations, scampering out of control".[31] Lindsay Zoladz of Pitchfork hailed Shaking the Habitual as the duo's "most political, ambitious, accomplished album, but in a strange way it also feels like its most personal".[19] Philip Sherburne of Spin remarked that The Knife have "never sounded more in tune with the materiality of sound or the sonorousness of the physical world."[30] AllMusic's Heather Phares opined that "Shaking the Habitual isn't as cohesive or accessible as Silent Shout, and after experiencing the whole thing, fans may not return to it often, but it's hard to deny that it's an often stunning work of art", dubbing the album "a testament to the Knife's skill that they make such formidable sounds so compelling for so long".[23] Reviewer Ludovic Hunter-Tilney of the Financial Times praised the entire album, and the singing in a "Siouxsie Sioux-style gravity amid a fusillade of eerie electronic beats", qualifying the result as "foreboding, apocalyptic and strangely exhilarating".[32]

Maya Kalev of Fact noted that "[f]ans of Silent Shout and Deep Cuts [...] will find Shaking the Habitual's hybrid of post-punk, techno, industrial, coldwave, drone and electro-pop discomforting", adding, "At Shaking the Habitual's core are the processes of deconstruction and reconstruction, so rare in the tradition of mostly reiterative pop music that the album feels transgressive".[33] The Independent critic Simon Price described the album as "long [...], strange, disturbing, uncomfortable, challenging. But it never fails to fascinate."[26] Louis Pattison of NME expressed, "Sporadically brilliant, perhaps it is The Knife's Inland Empire—a fearless piece of work with its own logic, one that shears away all safety nets. Invention, stark and undiluted."[28] Anna Wilson of Clash concluded, "Increasingly aggressive and overtly detuned, [Karin and Olof's] individual styles have collided to create something elemental, immense and unsettling. Self-possessed and uncompromising, this is a record with regal bearing."[34] Rolling Stone's Jon Dolan wrote that, compared to Silent Shout, Shaking the Habitual "explores even wilder styles of mordantly nutso android bleat".[29] Eric Henderson of Slant Magazine viewed that most of the album "consign[s] anything remotely hooky into the realm of affectation", and the lyrics are "delivered by some of Karin's most obtuse vocal performances to date, her sinewy androgynous pipes muscling through slide-whistle octaves fearlessly and tunelessly."[35] Hayden Woolley of Drowned in Sound found the album "unnavigable and unknowable, almost impossible to write about and even harder to listen to."[36] The Guardian's Alexis Petridis felt that "Shaking the Habitual's problem is that the Knife seem to have dismissed the idea of making your point concisely as merely another affectation of a decadent and corrupt society", describing the album as "alternately utterly gripping and unbearably boring; incredibly bold and strangely flaccid, viscerally thrilling and hopelessly over-thought."[15]

Accolades[edit]

In March 2014, Shaking the Habitual won the Nordic Music Prize.[37]

Publication Accolade Rank Ref.
The 405 Albums of the Year 2013 21 [38]
Beats Per Minute The Top 130 Albums (2008–2013) 27 [39]
Clash Top Albums of 2013 26 [40]
Consequence of Sound Top 50 Albums of 2013 6 [41]
Crack Magazine Albums of the Year 12 [42]
Exclaim! Best of 2013: Top 10 Dance & Electronic Albums 6 [43]
Fact The 50 Best Albums of 2013 48 [44]
Gaffa (Sweden edition) Best of 2010-talets 29 [45]
The Line of Best Fit Best Fit Fifty: Albums of 2013 1 [46]
musicOMH Top 100 Albums of 2013 93 [47]
NME 50 Best Albums of 2013 43 [48]
Paste The 50 Best Albums of 2013 21 [49]
Pitchfork The Top 50 Albums of 2013 14 [50]
The 100 Best Albums of the Decade So Far (2010–2014) 62 [51]
The 200 Best Albums of the 2010s 46 [52]
PopMatters The 75 Best Albums of 2013 3 [53]
Q 50 Albums of 2013 43 [54]
The Quietus Albums of the Year 2013 22 [55]
Slant Magazine The 25 Best Albums of 2013 7 [56]
The 100 Best Albums of the 2010s 72 [57]
Spin 50 Best Albums of 2013 9 [58]
Stereogum The 50 Best Albums of 2013 38 [59]
The 100 Best Albums Of The 2010s 53 [60]
Tiny Mix Tapes Favorite 50 Albums of 2013 18 [61]
Favorite 100 Music Releases of the Decade 88 [62]
Uncut The Best Albums of 2013 22 [63]
Under the Radar Top 125 Albums of 2013 24 [64]
The Wire Releases of the Year 1–50 10 [65]
XLR8R Best of 2013: Releases 17 [66]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by The Knife, except where noted.

Disc one
No.TitleLength
1."A Tooth for an Eye"6:04
2."Full of Fire"9:17
3."A Cherry on Top"8:43
4."Without You My Life Would Be Boring"5:14
5."Wrap Your Arms Around Me"4:36
6."Crake"0:55
7."Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized"19:02
Disc two
No.TitleLength
1."Raging Lung"9:58
2."Networking"6:42
3."Oryx"0:37
4."Stay Out Here" (with Shannon Funchess and Emily Roysdon; lyrics: Roysdon; music: Funchess, Roysdon, The Knife)10:42
5."Fracking Fluid Injection"9:54
6."Ready to Lose"4:36
Rough Trade exclusive bonus disc[67]
No.TitleLength
1."A Tooth for an Eye" (Cooly G Remix)4:21
2."A Tooth for an Eye" (Pursuit Grooves Remix)5:02
3."Full of Fire" (music video) 
4."A Tooth for an Eye" (music video) 

Notes

  • A single-disc version which omits "Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized" (included as a bonus download) is also available in several countries.[68]

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Shaking the Habitual.[10]

  • The Knife – recording,production, mixing
  • Shannon Funchess – vocals on "Stay Out Here"
  • Mikael Häggström – maracas on "Wrap Your Arms Around Me"
  • Johannes Berglund – mixing
  • Mandy Parnell – mastering
  • Liv Strömquist – comic, typeface Liv Fraktura
  • Studio SM – artwork
  • Martin Falck – artwork

Charts[edit]

Chart (2013) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[69] 50
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[70] 70
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[71] 16
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[72] 75
Danish Albums (Hitlisten)[73] 13
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[74] 67
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[75] 26
French Albums (SNEP)[76] 193
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[77] 67
Irish Albums (IRMA)[78] 30
Irish Independent Albums (IRMA)[79] 3
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[80] 22
Scottish Albums (OCC)[81] 30
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[82] 8
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[83] 77
UK Albums (OCC)[84] 31
US Billboard 200[85] 52
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[86] 9
US Top Dance/Electronic Albums (Billboard)[87] 2

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label Ref.
Australia 5 April 2013 Pod [88][89]
Germany
  • CD
  • 2-CD
  • digital download
Cooperative [90][91]
Sweden Rabid [92][93]
United Kingdom 8 April 2013 Brille [68][94][95]
United States 9 April 2013
  • CD
  • 2-CD
  • 3-LP
  • digital download
Mute [96][97][98]
Germany 12 April 2013 3-LP + 2-CD Cooperative [99]
Sweden Rabid [100]
United Kingdom 15 April 2013 Brille [101]

References[edit]

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