Album | Knife and Fork – The Higher You Get, The Rarer The Vegetation

Knife & Fork seem most noticed for performing as a support act for PJ Harvey, which carries some kudos, as she is basically a raven queen with shock and awe in her wings (band leader Eric Drew Feldman has a good track record, having also played with Captain Beefheart and The Pixies). Strains of Harvey’s earlier styles are unignorably present in this album, especially in the swooping vocals of singer Laurie Hall: there is a similar willingness to be eerie and daring.

Opening track ‘Tightrope’ may be nowhere near as perky as Janelle Monae’s song of the same name, but has a compelling force, like a doleful siren, and is danceable in its own way, with a fun syncopated beat and what sounds like a brass fanfare played on a synthesiser. ‘Chariot’ is all darkly-strummed guitar and strings, with a sickly, hypnotic mood worthy of a 1980s horror film; ‘I Count The Days’ has a more lively beat that seems to be trying to persuade the moody siren into a jig. “Here comes the raaaaaain”, Hall dirges, stubbornly, and yet the contrast works.

‘Tailspin’ and ‘Pocket Rocket’ feel more derivative, becoming so reminiscent of Harvey’s style that for a moment I thought I was listening to long-lost work of hers. But if you get nostalgic for her rockier roots, this might be exactly what you’re looking for; the guitars in ‘Pocket Rocket’ are a blast.

‘The Revelator’ carves out its own territory a little more: the vocals are fuller, the instruments more diverse, ending with melodramatic chanting that reminds me of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Final song ‘Bury’ is gothic, somehow expansive and claustrophobic at the same time; its echoing becomes nearly transcendent, but deeper, darker notes drag it back down. Altogether, as a finale it’s undeniably, weirdly individual.

Words: Becky Varley-Winter