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
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 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
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