Bjork - 'Vulnicura'
'Moments of clarity are so rare, I'd better document this....' Bjorks lyrics on her opening song set out the tone of her new album 'Vulnicura', which documents from start to finish the break-up of her long-term relationship. It also sets out her willingness as an artist to record it all lyrically and musically through an album which sets out her deepest and inner most thoughts. And with that aim, there's no doubt that this is a fairly extraordinary release.
But reviewing Bjork albums is never going to be easy (it's been passed backwards and forwards between us at NMR a few times), and I know its taken us a couple of weeks to write something. I just truly don’t understand how a reviewer can comprehend and write something on this within 24 or 48 hours, I’ve always felt I needed more time. Its also true to say that her previous albums taken a lot of listening to – we shouldn’t be put off by this obviously, many great musical works have not been universally acclaimed at the time. Vulnicura is some ways is a slightly more accessible album musically than some of her previous releases, but in terms of being easy to listen to, what we gain in tracks such as ‘Stonemilker’, we lose in the subject matter - the lyrics and tone are so gut wrenching, so visceral and at times so heart breaking, that this is actually pretty hard going at times
We're not going to breakdown and try and analyse each song, but we'll give you a few highlights. ‘Stonemilker’ the opener is an absolute stunning track, from the beautiful cello that starts the song to way Bjork opens up half way through the song into a wonderful melody of goosebump material. ‘Black Lake’ is the highlight of the album in many ways, 10 minutes of soulful anguish, with a string quartet that bleakly accompanies the vocals. ‘Atom Dance’ opens with Bjork alone before being joined by pizzicato strings and the tone of the strings and lyrics are become more optimistic – ‘I am dancing towards transformation, learning by love to open it up, let this ugly wound breathe’.
'Vulnicura' is a fairly exceptional album, I don't remember ever hearing an album which documents the breakdown of a relationship in quite such an emotional, and quite frankly ‘real’ way, and it's not just achieved through the lyrics, the music itself repeatedly jabs at the heart, tears at your soul. But the reality is, how much will I really want to listen to the album from start to finish - its bleak, at times musically discordant and the mix of strings against synths I sometimes find uncomfortable to listen to. Of course it's probably meant to be like that, but as much as I would like it to be, I cant imagine that this will get close to being one of my most listened to albums of the year. But maybe, like many of Bjorks extraordinary works to date, I still just need even more time.
I genuinely don’t know how or if I should even try and rate this but….
8 /10 Nordic Music Review