Fever Ray – ‘Radical Romantics’: a glorious, post-apocalyptic record of love and surrealism


‘Radical Romantics’ seamlessly explores realms of shapeshifting with ease, beauty and competence. For Karin Dreijer, otherwise known as Fever Ray, their first solo album in six years returns with assurance – skillfully moulding different identities throughout its tracklisting in a similar fashion to the Swedish artist’s own ever-evolving musical persona. 

As ever, Fever Ray’s latest returns with obscurity; warped, deep vocals project an air of mystery, which resonate and transform through the entirety of the record. As a whole entity, the album emanates a heavy Björk influence, from its ideas and sound palette through to smooth production and layering. Since 1999, Dreijer has been producing music alongside their sibling Olof [Dreijer] in experimental project The Knife, whose collaboration continues here, with four tracks co-produced by the pair.

In keeping with Fever Ray’s previous work, both as The Knife and as themselves, moments of darkness and ominous beauty still seep from their work, however ‘Radical Romantics’ holds the lightness and space to revel in euphoria and joy. ‘Shiver’ extends into the airy, dreamy soundscapes of Fever Ray’s discography, seemingly exploring themes of sexuality, trust and vulnerability.  


Working with Ableton Live and a lot of analogue synths, this record dips into a consistent but broad range of sounds, which offer a thread of consistency throughout the album as vocally Fever Ray ventures along different avenues. 

‘New Utensils’, harnesses almost-industrial synths alongside repetitive vocals, all layered into a post-apocalyptic aesthetic. Groovy and restless, this track’s regularities lie in its infectious rhythm. The track undoubtedly falls into the weird and warped with gritty synths and taunting vocals, but also feels periodically lofty and light through the moments where pitched notes shine through. 

The album’s themes ultimately reside in the equivocal exploration of love; ‘Even It Out’, co-produced by Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, delves into high-school bullying and stands as a dark and groovy ode to, what could either be perceived as mockery or accountability held towards the perpetrator. 

‘Radical Romantics’ holds true to its promises, it’s certainly achieving status as a ‘love’ album, although perhaps in a more surreal, ambiguous light. Lyrically, rhythmically and in terms of thematics, the album is a beautifully grungy synth haven for Fever Ray’s expedition into love and lust.

Rounding off with the spacious and pensive ‘Bottom of the Ocean’, Fever Ray’s sixth offering is an earnest playground for single drone synths and peppered with percussive syllabic vocals that bubble across the track and act as a sparse melody, giving room for reflection in the afterglow.  

‘Radical Romantics’ is out now via Rabid Records. 

Fever Ray – 'Radical Romantics'
fever-ray-radical-romantics-reviewReleased 10 March 2023