Shaking the Habitual

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Shaking the Habitual
The Knife - Shaking the Habitual.png
Studio album by The Knife
Released 5 April 2013 (2013-04-05)
Recorded 2010–12; Stockholm and Berlin
Genre
Length 96:20
Label Rabid
Producer The 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, 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 year end best 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 upon the Shaking the Habitual Tour in support of the album, starting in Bremen, Germany on 26 April 2013.[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 Dreijer Andersson.[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 Media, 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] In an interview with 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." She 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
Source Rating
Metacritic 85/100[21]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[22]
A.V. Club A–[23]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[15]
MSN Music A[24]
NME 7/10[25]
Pitchfork Media 8.4/10[19]
Resident Advisor 4.5/5 stars[26]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[27]
Spin 9/10[28]
Uncut 9/10[29]

Shaking the Habitual received widespread critical acclaim from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 85, based on 43 reviews, which indicates "universal acclaim".[21] Robert Christgau of MSN Music praised the album as "an exciting, multivalent Dreijer sibling showcase".[24] 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".[29] Lindsay Zoladz of Pitchfork Media 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."[28] 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".[22]

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 discomfitting", 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".[30] The Independent critic Simon Price described the album as "long [...], strange, disturbing, uncomfortable, challenging. But it never fails to fascinate."[31] Louis Pattison of the 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."[25] 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."[32] Rolling Stone's Jon Dolan wrote that, compared to Silent Shout, Shaking the Habitual "explores even wilder styles of mordantly nutso android bleat".[27] 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."[33] Hayden Woolley of Drowned in Sound found the album "unnavigable and unknowable, almost impossible to write about and even harder to listen to."[34] 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.[35]

Publication Rank List
Beats per Minute 27 The Top 130 Albums (2008–2013)[36]
Clash 26 Top Albums of 2013[37]
Consequence of Sound 6 Top 50 Albums of 2013[38]
Fact 48 The 50 Best Albums of 2013[39]
musicOMH 93 Top 100 Albums of 2013[40]
NME 43 50 Best Albums of 2013[41]
Paste 21 The 50 Best Albums of 2013[42]
Pitchfork Media 14 The Top 50 Albums of 2013[43]
62 The 100 Best Albums of the Decade So Far (2010–2014)[44]
PopMatters 3 The 75 Best Albums of 2013[45]
Q 43 50 Albums of 2013[46]
The Quietus 22 Albums of the Year 2013[47]
Slant Magazine 7 The 25 Best Albums of 2013[48]
Spin 9 50 Best Albums of 2013[49]
Stereogum 38 The 50 Best Albums of 2013[50]
Tiny Mix Tapes 18 Favorite 50 Albums of 2013[51]
Uncut 22 The Best Albums of 2013[52]
Under the Radar 24 Top 125 Albums of 2013[53]
XLR8R 17 Best of 2013: Releases[54]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by The Knife, except where noted. 

Disc one
No. Title Length
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. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "Raging Lung"       9:58
2. "Networking"       6:42
3. "Oryx"       0:37
4. "Stay Out Here" (Shannon Funchess, Emily Roysdon and The Knife) Roysdon
  • Funchess
  • Roysdon
  • The Knife
10:42
5. "Fracking Fluid Injection"       9:54
6. "Ready to Lose"       4:36
Notes
  • A single-disc version which omits "Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized" (included as a bonus download) is also available in several countries.

Personnel[edit]

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

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

Charts[edit]

Chart (2013) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[56] 50
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[57] 70
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[58] 16
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[59] 75
Danish Albums (Hitlisten)[60] 13
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[61] 67
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[62] 26
French Albums (SNEP)[63] 193
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[64] 67
Irish Albums (IRMA)[65] 30
Irish Independent Albums (IRMA)[66] 3
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[67] 22
Scottish Albums (OCC)[68] 30
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[69] 8
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[70] 77
UK Albums (OCC)[71] 31
US Billboard 200[72] 52
US Dance/Electronic Albums (Billboard)[73] 2
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[74] 9

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label Ref.
Australia 5 April 2013
Pod [75][76]
Germany
  • CD
  • 2-CD
  • digital download
Cooperative [77][78]
Sweden Rabid [79][80]
United Kingdom 8 April 2013 Brille [81][82][83]
United States 9 April 2013
  • CD
  • 2-CD
  • 3-LP
  • digital download
Mute [84][85][86]
Germany 12 April 2013 3-LP + 2-CD Cooperative [87]
Sweden Rabid [88]
United Kingdom 15 April 2013 Brille [89]

References[edit]

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