FEVER RAY – ” Radical Romantics “

Posted: March 11, 2023 in MUSIC

It starts with fear, because that’s present even in pleasure. As a phantom synth melody swirls between channels in the mix, Karin Dreijer’s lyrics return to the same uneasy question: “Did you hear what they call us?” “What They Call Us” hangs a pall over the rest of Radical Romantics, the third album from Dreijer’s solo project Fever Ray. Though Dreijer’s slippery experimental synthpop record never explicitly returns to the social peril of this opener, it looms like a latent hitch to queer desire, a subconscious state that must be confronted to achieve unguarded connection. It’s a thread made all the clearer in a stray aside on second track “Shiver,” with Dreijer interrupting their lustful lyrics with a simple question: “Can I trust you?” It’s a question of unclear directness—is it asked in actual conversation, or to themselves in thought?—but one that places all its impact in unambiguous baggage, holding the tacit hesitancy that comes after past hurt. Dreijer penetrates these themes with pop songwriting that cuts to the chase like a forthright come-on.

For all their uncertain trust on “Shiver,” Dreijer and their brother/former bandmate Olof infuse the song with a deep, bubbly bounce, as if to prove that the track’s unquenchable thirst remains even through anxiety. What makes Radical Romantics, like the best of Dreijer’s work, a cut above merely great pop is its subversive streak. Their lyricism is unapologetically queer while sidestepping empty platitudes, more often nodding to the knotted complexities of queer and trans people’s existence against marginalization and endangerment. Even in the face of apprehension, Fever Ray has never surveyed their own future with this much conviction.

the new Fever Ray album, “Radical Romantics”, out March 10th on Rabid Records

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