Mo’ Music Monday: Björk’s Vulnicura
An Icelandic broken heart just in time for Valentine’s Day
By Rob Cohen,
1:30PM, Mon. Jan. 26, 2015
Just days after announcing her return, the newly single Ms. Guðmundsdóttir surprised us all with a new LP, Vulnicura.
After floating through the tuneless, vague sounds of 2011’s pretentious Biophilia, Björk sets her gaze from the infinite to something far more personal: the disintegration of her marriage. Paradoxically, splitting from the father of her children, Matthew Barney, yields her ninth and most accessible album in ages.
Historically, the 49-year-old singer has demonstrated exceptional taste in collaborators, and this time she aligns herself with of-the-moment space-pop producer Arca (FKA Twigs, Kanye West), and dark ambient auteur The Haxan Cloak on mixing duties. Over the former’s punchy, fractured bloopage, and alternately lush and pensive strings arranged by Björk herself, she wails her lovesick lungs out with all her power. While she still struggles to deliver lyrics in more compellingly melodic ways, this is the most pop we’ve heard her.
Lyrically, she’s in a stark, black void – and confessionally corny as well. The first three tracks detail her pre-breakup struggles, beginning with the elegantly sad “Stonemilker,” on which “sychronizing our feelings” is as hard as “milking a stone.” The following three songs chronicle the post-breakup drama, climaxing in the gorgeous “Atom Dance,” an aching duet with the angel-voiced Antony.
As the album winds down and you long for the usual up-tempo tension breaker she throws on every album (“Pluto,” “Declare Independence”), the proceedings end on a positive note: best new song “Quicksand.” Over a swooping mix of elegant strings, dubstep bass, and skittering beats, she declares, “When I’m broken I am whole,” heading off into sonic space again with hope in her heart. By coming back down to terra firma to detail her disconnection with love, Björk reconnects with the people of Earth.
Love Björk? Get your swan dress ready, and check out the Hail Yasss! party, an all-star drag royalty tribute to the singer on February 21 at Chain Drive.