San Francisco Chronicle

Björk lives up to debut with ‘Post’

Björk : Post ****

For her second solo album on Elektra, Björk—the prickly pixie queen of latter-day art-rock—continues to play genre roulette with satisfying results.

The singer’s efforts as a member of the fey Icelandic band the Sugarcubes were always intriguing and willfully bizarre. Although the Cubes’ punky musical mischief was a tonic in the self-important, pregrunge atmosphere of late ’80s alternative rock, Björk truly came into her own with her 1993 album, “Debut,” recorded after the band called it quits.

On “Post,” she continues her collaboration with producer Nellee Hooper of the British r & b revue Soul II Soul. Hooper had helped unify the experimental blend of techno, folk balladry and hip-hop that made “Debut” such a remarkable recording.

But “Post” finds Björk expanding her range with a few new partners-in-production and co-authors, including old pal Graham Massey of the techno-rock ensemble 808 State, trip-hop artist/DJ Tricky and acid-jazz mogul Howie Bernstein.

Other guest contributors have an impact on “Post.” There are string arrangements by jazz-fusion heavy Eumir Deodato (it’s just his strings and Björk on the strange and stately ballad “You’ve Been Flirting Again”). And a trumpet excursion by Einar Örn—Björk’s co-conspirator in the Sugarcubes—lends some bite to the decidedly trippy “Enjoy”—a Tricky job about the links between sex and fear.

You expect the industrial/hip-hop crash and crunch of “Army of Me,” a song that was included in the sound track of the science-fiction movie “Tank Girl.” Björk wears well the mantle of angry technodemoness.

She’s a feral jungle girl on “Isobel” with its cool Brazilian rhythms and wide-screen strings. And the horninfused Afro-Cuban strains of “I Miss You,” a sassy, jazzy house-music number, reflect the romantic whimsy of the song’s lyrics.

Björk’s wise-child voice is used to perfect effect on “Hyperballad,” a sylvan reverie over a New Orderstyled, locomotive machine-beat.

Her airy pipes are the ideal vehicle for the 21st century chamber music of “Possibly Maybe,” a fragmented, poetic rumination on love’s ups and downs, and “Cover Me,” a darker number with harpsichord, dulcimer and otherworldly noises.

But it was either a joke or a stretch to have Björk cover the World War II swing tune “Blow a Fuse (It’s Oh So Quiet).” A jaunty big-band arrangement is taken to an absurdly hyperbolic level by her jarring, onomatopoetic screams. She’s no Betty Hutton.

It turns out to be the only noticeable misstep on “Post,” dropping it a notch below the rarefied heights attained on Björk’s “Debut.”

Michael Snyder

publié dans San Francisco Chronicle - 02.07.1995

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