Despite what modern dating culture may attempt to teach us, meaningful human connection is not a passive act. We may be taught games and restraint, but the fundamental forces at play in genuine connection are strong and often irrational emotions. The hypocrisy at the core of modern relationships is the astonishing truth, which Karin Dreijer, known more widely as Fever Ray, explores, in their beguiling new album ‘Radical Romantics.’
The album traverses the duality of the secretive nature of desire and intimacy, and the staggeringly interconnected nature of modern society. We are all more in touch with one another than ever before, yet we are often left feeling like moments of genuine connection are just out of reach. From the opening lines of the album, “first I’d like to say that I’m sorry, I’ve done everything that I can”, Dreijer begins an odyssey through the precarious nature of modern relationships, pausing to trace moments of emotional intimacy, and dwelling on the fear that comes with vulnerability.
Fever Ray has not shied away from more weighty topics in the past, with their self titled debut tenderly trawling the pain of postnatal depression and their second album ‘Plunge’ surprising fans with it’s unabashedly sexual lyrical subjects. This album may be more sonically playful than Fever Ray’s previous solo projects, but it’s subject base remains as serious and genuine as ever, as the tracks swerve between moments of connection. “Can I just hold you for a minute” Dreijer pleads on ‘Tapping Fingers’, an intimate portrayal of laying in the darkness next to someone you love. “The person who came here was broken” they continue “can you fix it? Do you care?” Alongside depicting the staggering nature of longing, ‘Radical Romantics’ questions what we seek in our relationships with others. Is it just to be seen? To be fixed? Or is it, as explored in the slightly tongue in cheek lyrics of ‘Even It Out’, in which Dreijer threatens a boy who is bullying their child at school, to protect and be protected?
The album’s apex is found in it’s alluring fourth track ‘Kandy’. Playful melodies pop through waves of sensual synths. The track is simultaneously seductive and vulnerable, embodying many of the captivating complexities of sexual relationships in signature Fever Ray style. Dreijer’s androgynous lyrical delivery toys with sexual innuendo, isolation, and the almost secretive act of connection until the conversation reaches a point in which words are no longer necessary, and the melody tells the rest. “I trust you, no answers”, whispers Dreijer, until all that is left is the elementary reaction, “simply wood and fire.”
Words: Eve Boothroyd