Saturday, December 04, 2004Deep Cuts
2004 has been a great year for new music. As discussed earlier this year, the-genre-formerly-known-as-alternative has had some great successes. Bands have been creative and brave and tried things that really just shouldn’t work but really really do. Whether the record buying public has become more open minded, or rather that they were just waiting for bands to try something new is debatable, but 2004’s story can really be defined by the resurgence of indieness, which is no bad thing at all.
One of the most interestingly brilliant albums I’ve come across this year is Deep Cuts by the Knife. The Knife are a Swedish brother and sister duo, making ice-cool electro music with a Caribbean calypso twist. Think Ladytron with steel drums, but much better. On one level the album is the most uplifting pieces of music imaginable. There are gorgeous Euro-English lyrics and pronunciations, anthemic choruses, steel drums and so many different synthesiser lines and sounds and drum machine beats that are just undeniable. It is verging on euphoric. But on another level it is this incredibly bitter-sweet tale of the Other, the outsider, insecurity and difficult modern love. The imagery of the knife, razorblade and cuts run throughout and there is a dark, perverse undertone throughout. With lyrics like “I’m in love with your brother, what’s his name?” in the haunting “Pass This On” with the high pitched wailings in the background and sparse synth sounds a real atmosphere is created. To understand what the Knife are about best, it helps to watch the DVD that comes free with Deep Cuts. They have three low budget videos to accompany some of their songs. An anorexic looking, glammed up transvestite performs the song to a half empty working man’s club in what would appear to be some down-and-out dead town. It’s a kind of tragic, faded glamour that is both ridiculous and chillingly sad. It needs to be seen to be believed – it is very convincing.
Unfortunately the Knife do not play live – they think it would compromise their sound too much. This is a shame because if their DVD is anything to go by, then they would be on of the most interesting bands to photograph. Miming to a backing track would probably be more appropriate anyway! The Knife are certainly a band to believe in and they are clearly all about the music. A line from "You Take My Breath Away" (one of the album's highlights) sums them up perfectly:
"We are the people who come here to stay/ I don't like it easy, I don't like it the straight way".
FYI: there are live photos of every band (other than the Knife, obviously) I have blogged about thus far on the main part of my site.