Bjork
Vespertine


4.5
superb

Review

by Eli EMERITUS
December 23rd, 2010 | 83 replies | 10,630 views


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

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.

Enter Vespertine, the most lengthy and personal release of Bjork’s stunning career. Being the first proper release after the groundbreaking Homogenic (Selmasongs 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.

Vespertine shall always be shadowed by Bjork’s grander, more groundbreaking works such as Post and Homogenic, 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.



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user ratings (766)
Chart.
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
Rick van Veldhuizen (5)
A masterpiece of intimate emotional landscapes....

Dylan S. (5)
Bjork reaches her magnum opus....

potsos (4.5)
Bjork's "Vespertine" [haiku review]...

Jeremy Fisette (4.5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenophanes
Emeritus
December 23rd 2010



10592 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Not completely necessary, but I've been wanting to review this for awhile!

pizzamachine
December 23rd 2010



12571 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

2nd paragraph:
- fix first sentence's period.
- in last sentence, add period.

Great review man, very classy.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2010



7163 Comments


Xeno, do you know how phenomenal this review is? It is tight, well-constructed, intuitive, and flows incredibly well. Good job mate, have a pos. It really is good to have you back.

Its something to be admired, her voice, as it is uncompromisingly honest.

Minor mistake: switch "its" to "it's". The former is possessive.

Adash
December 23rd 2010



1356 Comments


this review is great because it reminds me how fucking sexy bjork is

writing ain't too shabz either

Xenophanes
Emeritus
December 23rd 2010



10592 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks guys, I really appreciate it! I'll fix the issues when I get on my computer (it's a pain in the ass on my phone).

And yeah potato, get this. I actually prefer it over homogenic.

dylantheairplane
December 23rd 2010



2165 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

awesome review, Unison is probably my favorite bjork song

random
December 23rd 2010



2261 Comments


This sounds good.

dylantheairplane
December 24th 2010



2165 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It just depends on which you prefer, more ambient bjork=this, poppy bjork=homogenic

actually I guess Post is more poppy than Homogenic but they are both waay more so than this

Xenophanes
Emeritus
December 24th 2010



10592 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Well I pretty much fapped over what I love about this in my review, but I agree w/ dylan. If you were to enjoy a bjork album potato, this would be it.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
December 27th 2010



10592 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Let me know what you think!

conradtao
Emeritus
December 29th 2010



2090 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

ohmahgawd i love this album so much ughdkssjsj

great review, I've wanted to review this but it would be like five paragraphs of fanboy gushing

Xenophanes
Emeritus
December 29th 2010



10592 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Haha, thanks man. Yeah, I love this record as well, which is made clear by my fanboy review!

Gyromania
December 29th 2010



15461 Comments


Great review Elijah, sorry I missed this =[

Just one thing: "The music fit’s the theme incredibly well, "

remove the apostrophe

dylantheairplane
December 30th 2010



2165 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"I've wanted to review this but it would be like five paragraphs of fanboy gushing"

pretty much exactly what I was thinking

Xenophanes
Emeritus
December 30th 2010



10592 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks Gyro! Good to see you back on the site!

Yeah, this is my favorite by her, what's all of yours?

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 7th 2011



15000 Comments


'hidden place' is absolute fucking genius. i think you all need to listen now.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
January 7th 2011



10592 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Cocoon is where it's at, but yeah, Hidden Place is fantastic.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 7th 2011



15000 Comments


"an echo, a stain" could use more love, too. song is pretty much sexy in all meanings of the word (oops)

Xenophanes
Emeritus
January 7th 2011



10592 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

True story.

I know it gets a lot of love already, but Unison is one of my favorites on here

conradtao
Emeritus
January 7th 2011



2090 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

There's this one incredible moment in "Unison" where when Björk sings "Embraaaace you tight" her voice slides down, and it's so shockingly beautiful and humanizing.

Yeah, this is one of my favorite albums of all time. I actually prefer the second half of it over the first; it's more abstract but also more beautiful. Also, more love needed for "Harm of Will"; every single time I hear her sing "atop the family tree" I get shivers down my spine.



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