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The Knife – Heartbeats (2003)

Stockholm duo Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer aka The Knife have been one of the most fascinating infiltrators operating within the cult fringes of the European pop and electronic mainstream over the past decade. Their new album, ‘Shaking The Habitual’ went on release yesterday.

Since their inception back in 1999, The Knife have managed to keep a low profile and make music on their own terms and retain both their independence and cult mystique. Remarkable in a modern age where edgy, interesting, alternative sounds are co-opted so quickly into the fabric of the modern consumerist lifestyle.

The Knife songs featured in several television shows and movies with ‘Heartbeats’ itself most famously used in a Sony Bravia TV advert back in 2005 and 2006 albeit a cover version by Swedish-Argentine folk singer Jose Gonzalez. This would seem to contradict or compromise their socialist/anti-publicity manifesto but the duo have stated that any money made from such commercial ventures is usually back into their own label, Rabid Records.

I first listened to Deep Cuts, their second album back in 2005 and I was spellbound by their sound immediately. Sharp/soft, Strange/real,, Humorous/serious, Absurd/intelligent, Political/Personal; these dichotomies forming a unique strain of electronic dance music.

Of course, ‘Heartbeats’ stands out as it was the first song of theirs I had ever heard but eight years later, it is I think one of the greatest songs of all time and possibly one of the greatest I will ever hear. Mention it to me in ten years and we can discuss this hyperbolic statement. But it is quite a feat to craft such a love song – if we must call it that – which contains a wealth of contradictions but that is this duo’s gift, even at their most forbidding The Knife harbour a brittle, complex centre that is unmistakably human.