I am here to do the long overdue review of Bjork's wonderful 4th album, (excluding Telegram and Slemasongs,) Vespertine
This album is a huge departure from Homogenic
. On Homogenic, her sound was improved a huge deal, being engraved with a dense, electronic sound that we all loved. But on Vespertine, Bjork reduces the fat sounds, and sticks completely with a quiet, lush soundscape. Each song on this album is slow, or at LEAST mid-tempo. She focuses more on complicated, but beautiful strings and harps, with little undertones of electronic/miscellaneous noises (the vinyl scratching on the wondrous "Cocoon," or the snow-walking on "Aurora," or the beautiful, rising strings on "Sun in My Mouth.") Bjork completely tones it down, which at first seems like a turn off after such an impossibly astounding, aggressive electronic album. But dig a little bit deeper, and you'll find that she is not trying to outdo her previous works, she is simply making a new sound. It's signature Bjork to change with each album.
The album starts off with the skipping waves of "Hidden Place," which consists of a very minimal instrumental, with Bjork floating along beautifully. When she utters, "There lies my passion, hidden / There lies my love," it is striking. But even better is the second track is another quiet number, even quieter, that consists of only a soft instrumental pulse and the aforementioned vinyl scratching noise, but this seems to be all she needs to create a lovely intimacy. Her vocals are so innocently odd, and airy, that she draws you closer to the song with each breath you hear her take. This album really is just one humongous feeding ground for radiant melodies and divine crafting.
Songs such as "It's Not Up To You" and "Pagan Poetry" capture the almost-yelling Bjork in little (more like 5-minute long) entanglements that are so appealing, and at the same time, the most accessible songs on the album.
The brief, candyland-esque "Frosti," is a pretty instrumental melody, leading into another grand highlight, "Aurora," in which Bjork belts out "Shoot me beyond this suffer / The need is great / Aurora!!" She belts it out so affectively, and purely, that you can't help but drop your jaw, and fix your eyes on the speaker in awe. Then, toning down into another quiet, minimalistic song, "An Echo, A Stain" is almost stalker-ish, or creepy, in it's hollowness. But it still is a fine track, especially in the line "I can't say no to you," where the vocals are minced into little skipping pieces.
"Heirloom" is a great dream retelling, with fun beats (some of the only real beats on the album.) But then we fall into the album's only real not-so-good track, "Harm of Will." While undeniably beautifully orchestrated, the song drifts along far too slowly with minute-long verses of only a few lines. But, we quickly get over it with the best song on the album: the closer, "Unison." This song really makes the album. At 6.5 minutes long, it is one of the best she's done. With fun beats, nice music, and some really good vocals, especially in the chorus, ("Let's unite tonight / We shouldn't fight / EMBRACE! you tight / Let's unite.") This album really is astonishingly beautiful, there's no doubt.
The only downfall is if you listen to this album all the way through, you feel like you're being dragged around by a blob of sameness. This album is best heard when you're listening to your favorite tracks of it, or within a Bjork playlist. But aside from that, this album's lush sounds and vocals are extremely recommended to anyone willing to calm down and have an intimate meeting with Bjork.
Harm of Will