Review Summary: Bjork(verb)- To not give a rat's ass; to do what you please or however you see fit.
The end of the 90’s was a bit of an awkward transition for mainstream music. You had boy bands and teenage girls taking over the radio with their seemingly never-ending string of watered down pop songs. While rap music was decaying by the minute, swapping out meaningful lyrics about respect, love, family, brotherhood and unity for that of sex, violence, degradation of women, drugs and riches. Grunge was dead and Radiohead put out one of the most critically acclaimed albums of all time in ’97, leaving its mark on pop and alternative music up until this very day. Another album released in 97’ that did the same was Bjork’s 3rd album “Homogenic”
While the endless number of teenage pop stars turned to their writers to make their music, and earn a pretty penny, Bjork wrote and composed all of her songs herself on “Homogenic”. Many of the songs feature lush soundscapes, ripe with strings and keys and complex arrangements. But all include her gorgeous signature soaring vocals and bizarre, cryptic lyrics. The first track “Hunter”, introduces Bjork’s voice alongside an assault of vibrant and confident strings, strings that are not nearly as confident as the Icelandic entity herself.
It’s this confidence that really makes Bjork a huge part of what she is, and what she stands for. Throughout the album, she countlessly displays her “I do what I want” attitude. Her non linear vocals over a constant odd time signature on “Joga”, her harsh cries of despair on “Pluto”, or her oddball transitions from singing in English to Icelandic are all examples of this carefree attitude.
When she’s not awing the listener from a serious and emotional standpoint, she does it by poking fun. “Alarm Call”, a song that wouldn’t feel unfamiliar on a Michael Jackson record, shows that she can have as much fun as the song sounds performing it. The Michael Jackson allusion also shows that she wears her influences well, never afraid to take a cue or two from past artists, to pile it all in a big ball that she can call her own. Placed in between the brilliantness of “Joga”, which I have mentioned previously, and the cinematic and overwhelming “Bachelorette” is the beautiful and delicate “Unravel”, a song that shows off Bjork’s vocals in a more free form manner. As electronic as the music behind her voice may be, one can’t help notice the jazziness of her voice, slowly wrapping itself around you, by using layers of perfectly placed vocals and chilling vocal melodies. The three and a half minutes that this song has to offer is by far some of the most beautiful material I have ever heard, and most likely will ever hear.
Until the end of time, there will always be artists who are carbon copies of one another, falling into the hole that their competitors have already dug themselves into. Fortunately, for all the clones that continue to dry out the already lifeless music industry, there will always be at least one who continues to break new ground. With “Homogenic”, Bjork fell into the latter category, demonstrating herself to be an ambitious and spectacular artist. “All Is Full of Love”, as the last track suggests, but only if you prove it, and I’d be damning myself if I said she didn't with this album