Review Summary: Bjork gets intimate...
Love her or hate her, it’s impossible to deny that there is something strangely intriguing about Icelandic musician, Bjork. Whether it be her vivacious, yet aloof personality, or the sheer uniqueness of every piece of music she creates, one cannot simply accept Bjork- the vocalist, the musician, the artist
- at face value, because with every album released, we are presented with layers upon layers of the enigmatic woman herself.
, the most lengthy and personal release of Bjork’s stunning career. Being the first proper release after the groundbreaking Homogenic
being a compliment to the film, Dancer in the Dark
) Bjork did what was absolutely necessary - strip down to her core. With her previous release, she portrayed her emotions of heartbreak and anger from being a lover scorned, and the victim of a tragic stalking incident. However, with this release, Bjork went further into her psyche, beyond what the media and fans could see, into the deepest recesses of her as a person. You see, Vespertine
is less of a collection of songs, and more of an exploration into the musician herself. It’s introverted, but wholly patulous, with lyrics dealing with intensely personal, physical and emotional themes of love, lust, and self-exploration
The music fit’s the theme incredibly well, with the bombast and extremities removed, creating a denser and more subtle sound overall. To fit the more personal aspects of the lyrics, everything else is toned down a bit to better bring out Bjork’s vocals. In the classic sense, Bjork offers very little in the way of outstanding vocals. It’s not that she is weak, not in the least, but her intonation is lackluster, oftentimes giving her a flatter tone. Yet despite this fact, Bjork still manages to be marvelous, belting out notes as easy as she can whisper them. Its something to be admired, her voice, as it is uncompromisingly honest
. In its blissful sincerity, the lyrical content manages to be even more effective, evoking emotions that can’t be contained in writing alone. Yet the intrinsic value of the music to which Bjork sings is what really moves things along. The subtle twitches and samplings, the nigh inaudible string flourishes, the pulsating bass, it all adds an indelible amount to the entire product. From the shuffling of cards on “Cocoon,” to the crunching of snow heard on “Aurora,” it’s the little details that make Vespertine
so wonderfully complex, even in its simplicity.
And while these basic components seem trivial on paper, they come together to create something else entirely. “Cocoon” is a fantastic example, as it is the epitome of Vespertine
. Perhaps the most intimate track on the album, Bjork sounds weak and vulnerable, but somehow sings with such cathartic bliss, that the trembles and sighs are near palpable. The song is stripped to almost nothing, with minor electronic pulses and twitches lurking in the background. Yet that isn’t to say that every track on Vespertine
follows this same format, but rather, every song has its own flair, its own personality. For instance, “Unison,” one of the finest offerings on the entire record, features a bolder Bjork, one who is not afraid to go for broke and belt out a note. Added to this is some wonderful choral samplings, clever string work, and tasteful vocal layering. The song is impressively constructed, being incredibly multi-faceted but wholly tasteful, giving the album an incredible conclusion.
shall always be shadowed by Bjork’s grander, more groundbreaking works such as Post
, but with her sixth album she did something different, something brave. Like her, Vespertine
is flawed, and full of imperfections, but in stripping away the peculiarities and eccentricities of her character, Bjork successfully created a beautiful piece of art, and one fittingly portraying what she truly is- human.