Written by Tommy Ebbs
“Hey, remember me? / I’ve been busy working like crazy, I know you like tangerine / And your kiss is sweet and creamy.”
These are the opening lines to To The Moon and Back, the lead single to Fever Ray’s first album in eight years. This opening verse, coming out one week before the surprise release of Plunge, gave listeners a taste of what was to come stylistically and thematically in this long-awaited follow up to 2009’s self-titled debut.
As the song progresses, the melodies and production seem to be a throwback to The Knife’s quirky but accessible Deep Cuts release back in 2003. That is until Karin Dreijer (in her alter ego) states explicitly and without hesitation: “I want to rub my fingers up your pussy.”
Sexuality is at the centre of Plunge. Whilst To the Moon And Back danced the dotted line between pop-friendly synth-pop and electronic sexual deviance, the rest of the album is much more of a full exploration of love, loss and lust.
The opening tracks of the album, Wanna Sip and Mustn’t Hurry contain even more dance-infused beats, contrasting greatly with the sharp synth and pad work, which constitutes the ever fluctuating melodies. A Part of Us, the collaboration with fellow Swedish producer Tami T, keeps with this tradition but as a duet. Tami T’s pitched vocals contrast beautifully with Dreijer’s unaltered singing to create a bittersweet sensation of isolation, pouring through the track.
IDK About You is a stand out track, set at a heart pounding 160 BPM’s by Portuguese techno producer Nidia that will leave listener’s in a trance like state.
This Country continues the ever increasing darkness established by Falling but takes the noise-infused synth and has Dreijer at her most blatantly political, talking about “Free abortions and clean water, destroy nuclear, destroy boring…” and how the country in question makes it “hard to fuck”.
The harsh intensity of Plunge is what makes it such an intoxicating and thrilling listen. Pulling no punches, it takes the elements that made Fever Ray so haunting and unsettling but pushes those boundaries effortlessly.
There is though a recognisable change in tone after the instrumental title track, becoming more nuanced and calm. Red Trails and the last two tracks use violas and maintain lose its ferocity and constantly challenge the listener.
Closing the album with Mama’s Hand, Dreijer tells a cryptic story about two lovers ‘lost at sea’ who are torn apart as she ponders about the ‘little mystery called love’. With the closing track, the theme of love and sex is brought to a close through this contemplation on the negative and underexposed aspects of love and sex.
Plunge is the album Fever Ray fans have been waiting eight long years for. Whilst a slight departure from the previously seamless production of the debut album, Plunge’s erratic-ness outpaces Dreijer’s previous solo-outing and has crafted an experimental synth-masterpiece.
Disguised beneath the themes of sexual depravity and sensual touch, lies a thought provoking and beautifully twisted testament to love and desire, in all of its many forms.
Check out the full album below: