Fever Ray – “If I Had a Heart” 7”
Acquired: KJHK Music Staff, New, 2009
I had never heard this song until I watched A&E’s terrific new show “Vikings,” for which “If I Had a Heart” serves as the theme song. It’s sort of perfect. It has the sort of brooding you’d expect people with Viking blood. It’s dark and spooky and deeply satisfying. It’s like a pop single designated for 45 RPM and played at 33 1/3 instead. Which is about what you would expect from The Knife singer Karin Andersson. The Knife make the sort of dark, tuneful electronica that even I—a safe, boring, indie-rock nerd—can get down on. Fever Ray takes the darkness to a new level though. “If I Had a Heart” throbs. The deep organs, the hypnotic orchestral synth loop, the disembodied vocals, and the lyrics meditating on greed and power blend into a truly haunting final product. The sort of thing the music supervisor on “Breaking Bad” might hear and assign to one of the show's morally conflicted characters. The Fuck Buttons remix on the b-side brightens things up with some glossy synthesizers and turns the mournful wailing into an ethereal, almost angelic chorus. An insistent drum machine beat stabs at you the whole time pushing the hypnotic qualities of the original into more deliberate territory and the vocals are pitch shifted back to a more human register. And yet they manage to maintain the sense of impending doom. Which makes sense because this song is basically just slowed-down black metal of the Norwegian tradition.
The stunning and perfectly apt video for "If I Had a Heart"
And the Fuck Buttons remix.