“First I like to say that I’m sorry / I’ve done all the tricks that I can” confesses Fever Ray, AKA Karin Dreijer, in the opening track to their third album Radical Romantics. The Swedish experimentalist’s follow-up to 2017’s Plunge, the album explores ideas of love and relationships across 10 menacing pop tracks. Inspired by bell hooks’ seminal text All About Love and a relationship they had in the pandemic, The Knife vocalist’s first offering as Fever Ray in six years is pointedly less gushing than their previous release, instead choosing to focus on the emotional freefall that comes with being a human in love, with otherworldly production that gives Dreijer an almost alien quality.
“I just want to be touched / I just want to shiver”, they utter on “Shiver”, while “Tapping Fingers” – which they call the “saddest song” they’ve ever written”, simmers with slow-burn emotion and disorientating soundscapes, as they sing: “Let me know/ If this is the last day/ We run our bodies as we go to sleep.” Elsewhere, on lead single “What They Call Us”, Dreijer plays a disillusioned office worker on a mission to find a love potion to heal heartbreak, while “Even It Out” is a chaotic revenge fantasy dedicated to a kid named Zacharias, who bullied Dreijer’s kid in high school. Like hooks’ theory on love attests, Radical Romantics is in a state of constant flux, yet its overarching message of queerness and sexual desire is as radical as ever.
Elsewhere, Alice Longyu Gao invites us to party on their new EP, Sleaford Mods return with a sardonic new release, and Miley Cyrus’ eighth studio album is a glossy and sensual delight.