|Add Date:||2018-01-15|| ||Pull Date:||2018-03-19|| |
By now we’re all familiar with the backstory behind Björk’s last album, Vulnicura: The sonic sorceress broke up with her partner of thirteen years, prompting Björk to record what she called her “complete heartbreak album.” She’s followed that up with Utopia, her “Tinder album.” This album lets light and air into the shadows cast by its predecessor; it’s out with the despondent strings, in with flutes and harps and birdsong. And, of course, this being a Björk album, she’s got some truly gnarly electronic beats that make for some standout tracks. It’s a real long-player that would’ve benefitted from the editing of some tracks (or their complete removal), but at it’s best it reminds you why Björk is one of the most compelling artists alive.|
FCCs: 5, 9, 10
Favorites: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8
1) “Arisen My Senses” (5:00)* – A dense, lush song with layers of vocals, beats, and harp. (The harp is particularly lovely.) A driving percussive beat loops throughout most of the song, save for a gentle bridge at about the halfway point. Vocals can be kind of difficult to make out.
2) “Blissing Me” (5:06)* – A beautiful, harp-driven song about “falling in love to a song.” Subdued electronic percussion enters around the two-minute mark.
3) “The Gate” (6:34)* – The track is practically ambient for the first minute and a half, and remains instrumentally minimalist until the last three minutes, when beats start to pick up and flutes start to chirp in the choruses. It’s a direct, dramatic ballad.
4) “Utopia” (4:43)* – Long flute introduction before vocals and subtle beats kick in after a minute and a half. A very light and airy track, especially in comparison to what comes next.
5) “Body Memory” (9:47) – FCC “f***.” Remember the ten-minute monolith “Black Lake” on Vulnicura? “Body Memory” is very much that song’s mirror. It’s a slow-burning epic that touches on the classic Björkian themes of nature and sexuality. It sounds like classic Björk, to boot, with multiple layers of vocals and full, complex electronic beats.
6) “Features Creatures” (4:50) – Ghostly vocalizations form the bulk of the music, until flutes emerge just before the three-minute mark. It’s a haunting, spare track that makes me think of a frozen tundra, or even a graveyard. Not the best song to play on the air.
7) “Courtship” (4:45)* – Björk sings over twitchy percussion and chirping flutes. Sometimes her multitracked vocals flutter up in the instrumental, like she’s singing over a choir of herself. It’s a cool effect, and it makes this song similar to the title track. A standout.
8) “Losss” (6:52)* – (Yes, that’s three s’s.) Harp and flute come together beautifully on this track, and provide a dramatic contrast to the abrasive, serrated beat that rips throughout. It’s similar to Björk’s classic track “Jóga,” and nearly as good. (That beat takes over the song at the six-minute mark, so feel free to fade out when you hit that point.)
9) “Sue Me” (4:58) – FCC “f***.” Björk sings about the parental dispute with her ex over their daughter on this track, which is kind of a flip of the previous. The beats take more precedence than the flutes, and the two components don’t fit as well.
10) “Tabula Rasa” (4:42) – FCC “f***,” “s***.” An almost-entirely beatless track consisting of Björk singing over a few flutes. It doesn’t really go anywhere exciting in the five minutes it consumes, and it’s probably my least favorite track on the album.
11) “Claimstaker” (3:19) – A very strange track built on a bed of manipulated, pitch-shifted vocals. It’s the shortest non-instrumental track on the album, and while it’s not a favorite, I think it’s one of the more interesting-sounding ones.
12) “Paradisia” (1:45) – An interlude consisting entirely of flute and birdsong.
13) “Saint” (4:41) – Like “Tabula Rasa,” the lack of prominent beats on this song is a bit of a drawback; the song is almost too light for its own good. It consists almost entirely of vocals and flutes, and feels kind of ponderous. (The last minute picks up a bit, though.)
14) “Future Forever” (4:48) – Another beatless piece that’s just vocals and flute, but this one’s almost like a classical piece in that it doesn’t feel, in any sense, like it’s incomplete. It moves along at a leisurely pace but doesn’t drag like some of the tracks that come before it.