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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Album review: Emotion adds to eccentricities on Bjork’s latest record

The Icelandic experimenter introduces a new humanity into her increasingly abstract work

Utopia by Bjrok. Courtesy One Little Indian Records
Utopia by Bjrok. Courtesy One Little Indian Records

It is probably fair to assume that those who find Icelandic experimenter Bjork’s increasingly glitchy, abstract work too challenging might not see Utopia, her longest studio album to date, as a particularly paradisiacal proposition. She has dubbed it her “Tinder album”, after the “heartbreak album” that was 2015’s Vulnicura, but there is precious little disposable content to swipe through here.

The record is characterised by lush backdrops that veer from night-at-the-zoo animal noises through to the likes of Features Creatures, which floats on a choral cloud akin to a Christmas carol recorded in a vacuum. Despite containing the unironic use of the word “erotically”, Loss might be one of the easiest songs to relate to that Bjork has ever penned, admitting that: “We all are struggling, just doing our best / We’ve gone through the grinder, suffered loss.” Removed from layers of disguise, she is left emotionally vulnerable.

In many ways, songs such as Blissing Me are latter-day Bjork by numbers, and could have slotted onto several of her albums in the past decade. But while Utopia won’t win over everybody who struggles with Bjork’s eccentric extremes, it does inject a new humanity rarely found in her recent otherworldly work.

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