Shaking the Habitual

The Knife - Shaking the Habitual
Critic Score
Based on 36 reviews
2013 Ratings: #34 / 1039
Year End Rank: #9
User Score
Based on 606 ratings
2013 Ratings: #50
Liked by 11 people
April 8, 2013 / Release Date
LP / Format
Brille, Rabid, Mute / Label
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There’s so much to hear, all foreboding. It shouldn’t work—they went all or nothing. They got all.

A.V. Club

Shaking The Habitual has minor drawbacks—it wastes too much time on shambling instrumentals, and a wall-to-wall rager would have been great—but this brother-sister team is still heroically alienating and giddily perverse.

The Fly

While some of the abstract material here is frustratingly opaque, how many other ‘pop’ acts can you name that would have the brass cojones to drop a near 20-minute track right in the middle of their record? Astonishing.

Consequence of Sound

The album, rather than play to easy desires, trains us to sit down and listen again. It makes us wait for our rewards, luring us into extended trances only to snap us back out of them with honey-tipped uppercuts. 


Shaking the Habitual is, to paraphrase the Knife’s lyrics, hard to solve, but, then again, so are the issues the Dreijers are tackling on it.

FACT Magazine

At Shaking the Habitual’s core are the processes of deconstruction and reconstruction, so rare in the tradition of mostly reiterative pop music that the album feels transgressive, even though its underlying ideologies are reasonable rather than radical.


If you admire The Knife’s music for its incredible unpredictability and off-the-scale inventiveness, you are likely to consider this to be at least amongst their best work yet.


They've never sounded more in tune with the materiality of sound or the sonorousness of the physical world.

Beats Per Minute

Shaking the Habitual may be their most daunting and most cleverly incisive record to date.

Resident Advisor

Within the album's expanse, these are moments that alternately seethe and soothe, testing and prodding both the listener's expectations and his or her patience.

Loud and Quiet
It’s a delicious feeling to listen to an album so pointedly on edge, holding your breath, occasionally checking over your shoulder, sat frozen and tracking the shadows…wondering, hoping that all the doors are locked. Their darkest masterpiece.

What makes Shaking the Habitual so important is that The Knife used an important moment in their own history to truly subvert the hierarchy that both the band and the album exist in. Thankfully, they also wrote some near-perfect music in the process.

The Needle Drop
On the Knife's latest full-length, the Swedish electronic music duo goes absolutely insane with a 98 minute album that features a ton of long, linear art pop tracks that overload the senses and challenge expectations.
Under The Radar

The majority of Shaking the Habitual's running time is interwoven with industrial streaks, otherworldly tones, and haunting tonal experiments. This is not totally unexpected. 

The 405

Still unconventional and still brilliant, The Knife may be sharing more with us than ever before, but you can't help but feel there is so much left to discover. Sheer genius.


Shaking the Habitual is, inarguably, an achievement. It is the Knife's most political, ambitious, accomplished album, but in a strange way it also feels like its most personal

Pretty Much Amazing

Judicious use of the skip button to find the tracks on which Andersson’s transfixing voice is front and center, results in a much more rewarding, immediate experience. The nihilistic messages and political warnings will still be there, and so will your sanity.


Both heavy and cumbersome and light and uncertain, it will prove difficult for some to find an entrance to it, but once you’re inside you’ll find yourself enveloped by its bold experimentation and the stunning way they execute it. Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer still sound like no one else around.


Rawer yet more sophisticated than any of their previous music, it sounds like a skin being shed, and it's a testament to the Knife's skill that they make such formidable sounds so compelling for so long.

No Ripcord

Of course, no-one genuinely expects something so monstrously obtuse to make much of a difference at all, but at least The Knife are still daring to believe that it could, and there is every chance that Shaking The Habitual could be at the cutting edge of a resurgent wave of socially-conscious electro-pop

The Skinny

A disquieting and structureless piece of work that speaks of an endemic dissatisfaction with most of the systems in which we both live and make art


Aggressive, experimental and often challenging, the album blends the uneasy listening of Tomorrow, In A Year with the experimental electro of their previous releases

Time Out London
This is not an easy listen, but that’s the very obvious point. After all, the things that matter in life you have to work for. Put in the effort, and The Knife will reward you with a whole new paradigm.
Drowned in Sound

Undoubtedly some fans will be cornered into pretending they like this album a whole lot more than they actually do. For others, Shaking the Habitual might leave an entirely new musical landscape etched in its wake.


'Shaking The Habitual' is a radical gesture from an enigmatic group. As such, it will not be for everyone. Newcomers will likely be baffled. Hardcore Knife fans will hail it a masterpiece, while privately making fairly regular use of the skip button.

The Line of Best Fit

It’s an admirable pool of ideas, thrilling noises, rare, unpredictable melodies and a huge amount of imagination but to be brutally frank, it doesn’t encourage repeat listens.

Rolling Stone
They've released a 94-minute follow-up that explores even wilder styles of mordantly nutso android bleat.
Slant Magazine

Shaking the Habitual isn't so much "Shake Your Love" as it is Shakespeare...translated into alien biometric rhythms tapping out iambic pentameter.

If they had cut out a few of the atmospheric tracks, I would have rated it even higher. Some great tracks here, but some just aren't for me and keep it from being a truly stand out album.

This album gives off a vibe that is supernatural and chaotic. Often, it is worthy of sending chills down your spine. I still get goosebumps from the opening of "A Cherry On Top".

I'm so glad I listened to this album, it's so cartoonishly freaky

It's also just.. an embrace of sounds

It's like what you would hear playing when entering a haunted house

I'm not trying to say that this album is terrifying, just that it's eerie, in the most satisfying way possible

This ... read more
I would give this a higher score if some tracks were smaller or even cutted from the album (I’m looking at you, Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized)
I don't understand where they learn to do this

Favorite Track: A Cherry on Top
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Track List

  1. A Tooth For An Eye
  2. Full Of Fire
  3. A Cherry On Top
  4. Without You My Life Would Be Boring
  5. Wrap Your Arms Around Me
  6. Crake
  7. Old Dreams Waiting To Be Realized
  8. Raging Lung
  9. Networking
  10. Oryx
  11. Stay Out Here
  12. Fracking Fluid Injection
  13. Ready To Lose
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Added on: December 14, 2012