The New York Times

Björk - Webster Hall

Björk, the lead singer of Iceland’s best-known band, the Sugarcubes, has put the band on standby, moved to London and traded new-wave rock for sultry dance rhythms. But her new context hasn’t turned her into a standard dance diva. Her melodies still use wide leaps and dissonant turns ; her voice jumps from breathiness to laserlike focus to impassioned breaking notes. And she often arrives at her favorite subject, desire, from a peculiar perspective : “If you ever get close to a human,” she warned in her opening song on Tuesday night at the jam-packed Webster Hall, “you’d better be ready to get confused.”

Björk sends confusing signals herself ; she’s sometimes girlish, sometimes adult. Wearing a long white dress, with a tufted hairdo, she sometimes half-skipped, half-marched around the stage like a schoolgirl, and sometimes shimmied her hips like a good-natured vamp. Björk, whose unused last name is Guðmundsdóttir, performed songs from her new album, “Debut” (Elektra), actually her third solo effort. “Debut” was produced by Nellee Hooper, the brains behind Soul II Soul, and its songs touch up Mr. Hooper’s midtempo vamps with some of the electronic percolations of ambient techno music.

Her band reworked the album’s studio-style grooves with crisp efficiency, adding tinges of jazz with flute or saxophone. At times, the band could have been backing a singer like Sade, and even the lyrics, “crying ‘cause I need you,” could have been standard diva fare. But Björk’s sidelong melodic phrases, her bursts of dissonance and her sudden crescendos fought against the soothing grooves. Amid the music’s steadychugging conventions, she was still one of rock’s most enjoyable oddballs.

Jon Pareles

publié dans The New York Times - 11.11.1993

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