Bjork - Medulla
Never underestimate Bjork's ability to subvert expectations. Her latest album, Medulla, is the latest in a list of events that have seen the Icelandic princess attack a reporter in airports, win a Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival and wear a swan as an outfit to the Oscars. Whereas Bjork's last album Vespertine was brilliant; unflinching, enchanting and eerily icy, Medulla will pull the rug from under your feet on initial listens.
Medulla is merely a stage for Bjork's voice. Gone are the techno, isolated backing noises; gone are the musical hooks buried amidst a downbeat exterior and uplifting core and here instead is a vocalist at her most purest, and at her most uncompromising. Bjork has always given the impression that her pursuit of creative artistry has always superceded her chase for financial gain or top ten hits, and Medulla is the strongest release yet to corroborate this notion. Many have dubbed this album an 'a capella' album and you can understand why - human beatboxes, choirs and only the rarest of programmed beats seem to grace the album. Surprisingly, Bjork has also tucked away in the mix some guest turns from Robert Wyatt and Faith No More frontman Mike Patton, but the overall result still sounds like a decontextualised de-strip of an album.
At times, Medulla steps dangerously close to the 'old' Bjork, on songs such as Who Is It, but this is merely a lull; Medulla spits out the listener just as quickly as it draws it in. There is a temptation to think back to Radiohead when they released Kid A (even Medulla's Sonnets/Unrealities XI sounds like it was culled from Kid A). What on release day sounded like a lazy, unlistenable nervous breakdown from a band on the verge of immortality, now is arguably their greatest album in retrospect. This helps encourage you to give Medulla at least a few more listens. The problem with this is that whilst you admire Bjork even more than you did for daring to release it, and whilst you will find the songs to be interesting, you will struggle to cherish the album. It's as if Bjork doesn't want Medulla to be over-played on your stereo, but rather to be instead admired and to sit on your record collection shelf. Let's hope that Bjork has over-indulged enough with her experimental side in Medulla, and will now come back with an album that will finally combine all sides of her intriguing persona.
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Last updated: 19/04/2018 12:01:05