The Chicago Tribune

Vulnicura ★★★½

Bjork attempts to mend her heart in ’Vulnicura’

Last time Bjork beamed in, she was trying to piece together the fragmented cosmos in an ambitious multimedia science project, “Biophilia” (2011). Now she sets a different task for herself : how to mend a heart.

“Vulnicura” (One Little Indian) is direct and emotionally transparent in a way that the daunting and abstract “Biophilia” wasn’t. That’s not to say the new album is simplistic. Nor is at an easy listen. This is a dirge for a break-up and Bjork occasionally wallows in it.

As the songwriter and coproducer (primarily working with Venezuelan-U.K. DJ Arca, who has teamed with FKA Twigs and Kanye West), Bjork is in peak form, creating a thematic and sonically linked work that flows seamlessly from track to track. She has traveled far from the concise pop-leaning songcraft of her earliest albums into a realm that has as much or more in common with contemporary classical and the avant-garde fringe of electronic and club music. She achieves this synthesis with the sparest elements – strings, electronic textures, and her shape-shifting voice – while charting the demise of a love affair over nine songs.

Bjork’s lyrics feel raw, unfiltered, unguarded, more like diary entries. This is particularly true of the first three tracks in which the love affair (based on her own long relationship with the father of her daughter) is just beginning to unravel. The strings provide empathetic company, a mournful counterpoint to the doomed hope in her voice. “Stonemilker” swoons as Bjork enunciates each syllable : “I wish to synchronize our feelings” – pillow talk with an Icelandic twist. Her multi-tracked vocals wobble on the fragile “Lionsong,” as optimism drips away. “History of Touches” is as tactile as it implies, an open space with little more than voice and icicle keyboard tones, as erotic memories recede.

The 10-minute “Black Lake” marks a turning point, a multi-part progression from shock and sadness into anger, the oval shapes of Bjork’s singing transforming into pointed accusations : “You betrayed your own … corrupted … abandoned.” The soundscape shifts to match her, the beats twisting into increasingly contorted shapes until all that’s left is the thump of a kick drum, followed by synthetic machine-gun bursts, a battlefield of sound.

The remainder of the album tracks the aftermath of the carnage. The first half of “Family” slows to a crawl, the beats a series of slow-motion, under-sea detonations. “Is there a place where I can pay respects for the death of my family ?” the black-veiled widow sings. Healing begins and by “Atom Dance,” she and the singer Antony are dancing with the strings while beats land like marbles on a tabletop. The music finds a quicker, more agitated pace as the narrator pulls herself out of the muck, but not before one final parting shot.

In the closing “Quicksand,” over the album’s most rapid-fire rhythms, Bjork turns her private struggle into a universal one. The “we” she sings of becomes not just her family, but all women : “Every time you give up/You take away our future/And my continuity and my daughter’s/And her daughters/And her daughters… ." The music snaps shut, to be continued.

Greg Kot

publié dans The Chicago Tribune - 23.01.2015

 

Articles de la même année

 

2015

date
publication
titre
20.01.2015
Slant Magazine
20.01.2015
Press play ok
21.01.2015
Les Inrockuptibles n°999
22.01.2015
The Telegraph
22.01.2015
The Independent
22.01.2015
The New York Times
22.01.2015
Irish times
22.01.2015
TimeOut
22.01.2015
Pitchfork
22.01.2015
LA Times
22.01.2015
Standard
22.01.2015
The Quietus
22.01.2015
Clashmusic
22.01.2015
The Guardian
22.01.2015
NME
22.01.2015
Los Angeles Times
22.01.2015
The Atlantic
23.01.2015
Pitchfork
23.01.2015
musicOMH
23.01.2015
The Chicago Tribune
23.01.2015
Rolling Stone
23.01.2015
The New York Times
24.01.2015
ABC News
25.01.2015
lapresse.ca
26.01.2015
Slate
29.01.2015
Resident Advisor
30.01.2015
The New York Times
02.02.2015
thecreatorsproject.vice.com
02.02.2015
factmag.com
06.02.2015
The Reykjavik Grapevine
15.02.2015
The Guardian
19.02.2015
The gentlewoman
01.03.2015
Vogue Paris
01.03.2015
Monopol
03.03.2015
Dazed Digital, 2015
06.03.2015
Irish Times
09.03.2015
The New Yorker
12.03.2015
The Guardian
12.03.2015
Spex Magazine
15.03.2015
framestore.com
16.03.2015
Le Monde
16.03.2015
Juxtapoz
18.03.2015
Les Inrockuptibles n°1007
10.06.2015
Dazed & Confused, 2015
21.07.2015
Paris Match
29.10.2015
the arts desk
05.11.2015
musicOMH
09.11.2015
sinfinimusic.com
29.11.2015
Sunday Times Style