BJORK"Debut” Elektra* * *Since the Sugarcubes emerged...
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Since the Sugarcubes emerged from Iceland in the late ‘80s, Bjork Gudmundsdottir’s unearthly vocals and the band’s oddball pop have mesmerized the alternative music world, making them college radio superstars.
The singer’s first album away from her mother band is a smooth but strange work. It doesn’t offer the edge and excitement of a Sugarcubes album, but, in kicking back and relaxing, she explores intriguing new areas.
Now that Bjork’s primal growls and crystalline, high-pitched lilts are no longer juxtaposed with a male vocalist’s sing-speak, they fit more in the avant-garde than indie-rock realm. She croons alongside a harp as if she were doing some old Cole Porter tune, then rips open in emotive shrieks on songs fueled by booming, tribal beats. Her Icelandic accent makes lyrics sung in English sound awkwardly exotic.
Quirky saxophone, cool xylophone and kettledrums run through the album, giving it an almost bohemian feel, while subtle techno beats and metal-on-metal bangings keep it from sounding dated and cliched. Backing vocals, also by Bjork, are sheer and ghostly, adding a mysterious and mellow quality to the diverse mix.
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