By Eli Schoop, Copy Editor
[One Little Indian; 2017]
Key Tracks: “The Gate”, “Sue Me”
Björk has made a career out of crafting avant-pop that couldn’t be made by any other person on the planet. Indeed, her last album, Vulnicura, was a manic depiction of darkness that resembled a Ridley Scott feature more than a typical treatise of the breakdown of romantic and sexual boundaries characterizing a relationship. Her follow-up has pivoted this, and rather than bust open the specificities of communication dynamics, or how taxing it is to be a woman, Björk’s music can’t sustain the thematic depth these kinds of interactions demand.
It seems trite to criticize one person for the differences between Björk’s more intrepid endeavors and Utopia, yet one has to highlight Arca’s influence in making the sound less of a cavalier effort than needed for this kind of content. The avant-garde producer has been one of the pioneers in the warping of vocal melodies to fit the experimental production made popular in the 2010′s, yet his particular brand of sentimental warbling doesn’t fit Björk when she’s not flanked by the pop sensibility that made her so successful in the first place. While reducing his input as the main caveat for this style is a bit assumed, the collaboration instinct of the two wunderkinds putting forth such an uninspired effort is disappointing.
Björk’s manner of creation can’t be disparaged completely, as songs like “Sue Me” and “The Gate” are powerful tracks that highlight how sweeping the Icelandic siren’s voice can be when given a proper atmosphere. However, it’s highly puzzling to concentrate such a strong motif, such as the shunning of a woman, in the face of gigantic misogyny in favor of a Kate Bush-esque kind of chamber pop when Björk has not synthesized her talents in that genre for a while. She seems much more suited for the dirges and grime of synths and 808s, and it’s a shame we can’t extrapolate such potent themes when the music isn’t up to par.