Slightly annoyed by the indifference to their chilly first record (2001’s The Knife), the band made a conscious and fairly successful effort to integrate more popular styles into 2003’s still decidedly strange follow-up, Deep Cuts. Hip-hop beats and Euro-disco decadence certainly caught more ears, and produced one of the decade’s truly sublime singles in “Heartbeats.” While that one got the chained-to-the-Internet set to take notice, it was a sighing cover version by folky countryman Jose Gonzalez that really brought their music to the masses when featured in a 2005 Sony commercial. Allowing its use was not a guiltless decision. In a 2006 Pitchfork interview Karin articulated her lingering unease:
“We've never sold any of our own performed tracks to any commercials, so it was very hard for us. It doesn't really feel that good, but the question came when we were in the middle of Silent Shout, and we didn't have any money or anything, so it made it possible to continue working on the album, the videos and the live show. It made it possible to do quite a lot, but at the same time, it's dirty money.”
There are traces of that guilt all over Shout: references to “money that burns in my hand,” skeevy rationalizations for participation in pornography and reiterations of the profoundly universal, “some things I do for money, some things I do for free.” But, no one can slander the group by saying they didn’t make exactly the record they had intended, a set of songs which ended up as one of the most inhuman sounding, and yet bizarrely, emotionally affecting albums of all time.
Reflecting dissatisfaction with the pop grab-bag of sounds that brought them wider attention, Silent Shout’s instrumentation is monolithically minimal techno. All of the music itself was generated by Olof Dreijer, a self-described “narrow-minded minimal techno DJ,” as an attempt to more accurately reflect the sounds he loved as a listener. Compared to previous work, the enveloping tone of the record is muted, nearly frozen. These full-but-icy pallette makes even the most kinetic, uptempo club beat seem like an expression of unfettered unease. Calling it gothic, or gloomy, seems like underselling. The landscape Olof creates is practically post-human.
Haha.. we were kidding about all those other ones. This is obviously, objectively, the best record
ever of the decade.
Dec 23, 2009
Breakup records should not be this good.
Dec 23, 2009
After five years and three albums spent building something, Wilco decided to tear it down and start fresh. The music industry did the same thing. But it didn't exactly have a choice.
Dec 22, 2009
With just ten songs, Arcade Fire successfully mourned the loss of multiple relatives, helped us discover a new way of dealing with adversity, and changed the face of indie-rock.
Dec 21, 2009
Once upon a time, the person we now know as the single most irritating figure in all of popular music was the most impressive artist the game had ever seen. It was fun while it lasted.
Dec 17, 2009
It was the most talked-about record of 2006, but when no one could quite make sense of it, they stopped trying. Doesn't make it less brilliant, but more.
Dec 16, 2009