Violently happy Icelandic pixie Björk is hurt, and she’s not afraid to sing about it

Björk Vulnicura Released:  March 24, 2015 Label:  One Little Indian

Released: March 24, 2015
Label: One Little Indian

It might be time for Taylor Swift to shut up with the chest-beating, I’m-the-queen-of-the-break-up-song routine. Björk’s new album Vulnicura is about more than superficial heartbreak. Throughout the hour-long concept album, she tells a tale of unfulfilled emotional needs, hope that someone will change, and the pain, not only of breakup, but of the end of the family as a unit of love.

The first three songs are about the breakdown of a relationship. “Stonemilker,” the opening song, Björk presents a relationship nine months before the end. She want to be shown “emotional respect,” for her needs to be acknowledged and for her and her lover to “synchronize our feelings.” In “Lionsong,” she expresses hope that the relationship can be saved. Björk’s voice is full of vulnerability when she sings “maybe he will come out of this loving me/maybe he won’t.”

“Black Lake,” a ten-minute long song about the actual breakup, is heartbreaking.

“I am a glowing shiny rocket

returning home

as I enter the atmosphere

I burn off layer by layer


Our violently happy Icelandic pixie has been hurt. She’s not afraid to sing about it. More importantly, she’s not afraid to show you her wounds.

I haven’t heard anything with this level of emotional power in a long time. This is a mature set of songs about breakup and the consequences. In “Family,” she asks “Is there a place/where I can pay respects/for the death of my family.”

“There is the mother and the child

Then there is the father and the child

but no man and a woman

no triangle of love”

Sorry Taylor Swift, while it’s easy to sing that we should all “Shake It Off,” it isn’t that easy.

This is the cover once it is slid out of the acetate cover.

This is the cover once it is slid out of the acetate cover.

This is Björk’s best album in a long time. Her voice is full of complex emotions and beautiful, even when the emotions are harrowing. Her voice reflects her feelings in each song. The music is electronic beats and a powerful string section. This is progressive music and requires the listener to sit down and listen. It is not party music, or background music while people talk about their last visit to the Olive Garden.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

©  Paul Anthony George and The Reno Signal, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Paul Anthony George and The Reno Signal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


The Triumphant Return of Sad Beck

beck morningBeck Hansen returns to his sad side, formerly heard on Sea Change, the greatest break-up album ever, in Morning Phase, a somber collection mixing folk and ambient styles.

Anyone expecting Beck to “get crazy with the Cheez Whiz” or make “all the lesbians shout” may be disappointed in the self-reflective nature of this new album. However, most fans of Mr. Hansen, know that he does what he wants, unconcerned with commercial viability.

The album is a quiet, almost peaceful, album. While it is similar to Sea Change, its production sheen reminds me more of Modern Guilt. I have not had time to listen to the album more than a few times, so I’ll avoid commentary on specific songs. However, “Blue Moon” and “Unforgiven” stand out after a few listens.

It is a good album, something a listener can put on and relax to. Beck’s last few albums have been less single-oriented and more album-oriented. So don’t expect a standout track like “Que’ Onda Guerro” or “Sexx Laws.” Still, Sad Beck is back, and I’m happy about it.