Review Summary: A diverse first solo effort that just wants to have fun.
The year was 1992 and Björk was in something of a predicament. She had outgrown the post punk/alternative rock style of her band at the time, The Sugarcubes
, and wanted to broaden her horizons. With the help of production maestro Nellee Hopper, Björk made an album that was influenced by many different styles of music and that would kick her solo career off on a high note.
It would be impossible, and unfair, to pigeonhole this album into one particular style of music and each track is filled with the creativity and personality that would become a trademark of Björk later on in her career. Songs like Big Time Sensuality
and There’s More To Life Than This
(which was recorded live in the toilets of a club) feature a feel good electronica style, and they really are a highlight of the album. There’s More To Life Than This
is filled with such an overwhelming sense of excitement and optimism, that it makes it nigh impossible not to get swept away with it. “We could nick a boat, and sneak off to this island, I could bring my little ghetto blaster”
really demonstrates a youthful innocence and carelessness that is quite unlike anything that existed at the time. If dance isn’t your thing, you may enjoy the electronica/alternative rock style of Human Behaviour
. This fan favourite allows Bjork to really show off her wide vocal range. One minute she will be singing in a soft, sensual style and the next she will be bellowing at the top of her voice. The African-sounding drums give it a uniquely ethereal quality that won’t be leaving your head any time soon.
Possibly one of the most well known songs from the album is the energetic dance anthem Violently Happy
. The bittersweet lyrics of trying to have a good time when someone you care about is not present really contrast the upbeat drum beat and synths. It shares similarities with many dance tracks of the 90’s, but Björk’s eccentric vocals really make it stand out. But the album isn’t just made up of dance and electronica tracks. The warm and sentimental The Anchor Song
is stripped bare of any drum beats or synths, it’s just Björk’s voice and a jazzy saxophone; provided by Oliver Lake. Her Icelandic heritage is clearly on display in the lyrics, where she is singing about living by the ocean and dropping anchor to claim her home. Album closer Play Dead
is given a very epic quality, thanks to the sweeping violin that dominates the instrumental portion of the track. When the album isn’t making you want to dance, it is allowing you to lay down and just chill-out, whether you’re reflecting or relaxing. Venus As A Boy
features laid back strings, and sounds produced from what would appear to be a bottle. Lyrically it is one of the most mature tracks on the album. Lines like “His wicked sense of humour suggests exciting sex”
prove that while there is an underlying playfulness to the song (and the album), the person performing on it is indeed a woman and not a child. Love is the dominant lyrical theme of the album, and Aeroplane
is a perfect example of this. Lines like “He’s away, this ain’t right, I’m alone”
create a melancholy atmosphere, touching upon the basic feeling of sadness created from missing the company of someone you love or care about.
There really aren’t many negatives to speak of; the only thing that might be off-putting to some people is Björk’s voice. She has a very strong accent that sounds like a mix of Icelandic and a bit of British. But most people should be able to get used to this very quickly and from then on it’s pure bliss. I highly recommend Debut to anyone who hasn’t already heard it, and it is an album I am sure I will return to time and time again.