Bjork
Utopia


4.5
superb

Review

by Sabra Net Wore CONTRIBUTOR (127 Reviews)
November 26th, 2017 | 261 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This time, I'm going to keep me all to myself.

On album highlight “Tabula Rasa”, the theme Björk enforces is that of empowerment, and of personal redemption; urging for “us women to rise and not take it lying down”, and to not repeat others’ failures – in specific, her own. Vulnicura and its sister album Utopia are, thematically, two sides of the same coin; both feature producer Arca prominently and adding a new depth to Björk’s music, but the Icelandic songstress herself was found in a different frame of mind both times, one of that of a woman in great emotional distress, and of a woman rediscovering love and finding great elation in that magical revelation. Utopia finds Björk almost bewildered, near ecstatic at the potential the future has for her and her lover; “Blissing Me” has this very potent emotion that lingers about, Björk trying to find it in herself to be in love again, but reassuring herself it’s a relationship merely limited to a mutual interest (“Sending each other MP3s / Falling in love to a song”) – only to resign herself to the fact that she has fallen in love with this individual (“Did I just fall in love with love"”). This constant state of discovery, awakening, and intimacy markedly defines Utopia, a record that follows a similar path that 2001’s Vespertine once did with several songs dedicated to Björk’s beloved and the palpable euphoria that laced each and every song.

Utopia, being Björk’s longest record yet, slowly burns with greatly atmospheric instrumentation that ranges from waifish vocalizations, to chirping birdsongs, and scatty glitch percussion that clash with Björk’s voice, which at times, like 2004’s Medúlla, is another instrument in the wide array present on Utopia, whether it be part of a heavenly choir or a fragile acapella accompaniment. Standouts such as the ten-minute epic “Body Memory”, written as a response to the melancholic “Black Lake”, is worthy of every single minute dedicated to it, evoking images of foggy hillsides and icy landscapes interspersed with the themes of humanity and nature, which Björk uses magnificently to emphasize a personal revival within herself (“Then the body memory kicks in / My warrior awakens / My turn to defend / Urban didn't tame me”) and a conflict against outside forces, both internal and external. “Courtship” juxtaposes airy flutes against uptempo, surging beats; even further lyrically with a concept that is centered around personal relationships through a screen – for the lack of a better word, it’s a song that only proves Björk was half-serious about Utopia being her “Tinder album”. “Losss’s” vulnerability offers warmth joined with themes of loss, suffering, and overcoming such complications while acknowledging there was a time where there was a mutual respect between the couple, and the desires that came with that respect.

In being so enraptured in its drama, Utopia features Björk at her most intense; “Sue Me”, a song about the divorcée’s custody battle over her daughter Isodora, is a plea for maturity and dignity from her ex-husband Matthew Barney, who attempted to sue his wife for spending too much time with their child. At her most confrontational, Björk’s frustration is highly substantial, and rightfully so, demanding that their child doesn’t get caught within the crossfire of an already-disastrous ordeal for all parties involved; while also proclaiming that, as the child’s mother, will not “denounce her origin” no matter what. The aforementioned “Tabula Rasa” continues this theme, with an urgency nowhere else to be found on Utopia despite its abstract composition, whilst “Saint” is the singer’s paean to music itself, and the boundless power it has to heal oneself spiritually and emotionally.

Slowly but surely, Utopia is conceptually, in some ways, a successor to Vespertine, an album that honed a distinct sound that couldn’t be replicated; but unlike its spiritual predecessor, Utopia leaves traces slightly bitter behind, while encouraging its creator that it can, against all odds, move on and begin again. It’s an album that, like Björk’s music itself, grows on you – and even if it doesn’t, you can find a great deal of respect in its sophistication and its intricacies.



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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
November 25th 2017


15755 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

in every dream home, a heartache



Body Memory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buUC1HrBqnQ

Blissing Me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHWAZNkqwN4

The Gate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6j4zTyArY4A

Digging: T. Rex - The Slider

Asdfp277
November 25th 2017


16125 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yesssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

SteakByrnes
November 25th 2017


5165 Comments


"This time, I'll going to keep it to myself."

I think you mean "I'm going to..."

Album art is gross

Digging: Ghost Atlas - All Is In Sync, and There's Nothing Left to Sing

someguest
November 25th 2017


29069 Comments


god, I hate art pop

Digging: Demolition Hammer - Epidemic of Violence

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
November 25th 2017


15755 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@steak fixed and agreed, i got an alt if you want

Astral Abortis
Contributing Reviewer
November 25th 2017


3778 Comments


dear lord she has the worst album covers. every time she makes an album i think she can't possibly make a cover worse than the last, but she does.

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
November 26th 2017


15755 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

wouldn't really say Vespertine, Biophilia or Vulnicura are bad, but alright

Astral Abortis
Contributing Reviewer
November 26th 2017


3778 Comments


Vespertine, Biophilia and Post are her least-bad covers, but they're still not great. Vulnicura was the worst until this one.

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
November 26th 2017


15755 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

definitely wouldn't say Debut or Post have bad covers, as well



Volta, on the other hand, I could agree that's a horrendous cover

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
November 26th 2017


15755 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Vulnicura is practically just her in latex and a mask, it can't be that bad especially when the alternative cover is CG mush

Astral Abortis
Contributing Reviewer
November 26th 2017


3778 Comments


Volta is awful yeah, the album as a whole as well, not just the cover. That was the only Bjork album I've ever straight up just hated.

Astral Abortis
Contributing Reviewer
November 26th 2017


3778 Comments


This album so far is alright but idk I think my Bjork-loving days are long behind me

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
November 26th 2017


15755 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

it's not as bad as some people are making it out to be, that's to say

DarkTyler
November 26th 2017


168 Comments


Good review pal

DarkTyler
November 26th 2017


168 Comments


Oops wrong acc I meant bad review

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
November 26th 2017


15755 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i knew it...it's you !!



(hed)chesse!

DarkTyler
November 26th 2017


168 Comments


yeah its tyler....... obviously

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
November 26th 2017


15755 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

took some real thinking and cooperation from the FBI to figure that out...

JJKeys
November 26th 2017


828 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

"Losss's"

Needs more s's

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
November 26th 2017


15755 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

JJKeysss



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