POP MUSIC REVIEW : Bjork Plays to Her Strengths With Reflective, Lyrical Style
The most powerful moments on Bjork’s albums aren’t the big-beat synth-pop numbers, but her reflective ballads in which she contemplates personal and cosmic questions. Pieces such as “The Modern Things” and “Isobel” combine ambient sonic experimentation with a lyrical and vocal freedom to create music that’s intimate and eccentric, completely distinctive and seemingly spontaneous.
It’s not the kind of material that figures to work in a boisterous ballroom, but Bjork didn’t shrink from the challenge Wednesday at the Hollywood Palladium, where she virtually built her show on her understated material. And when she moved to more accessible, up-tempo tunes, she was a much more dynamic and outgoing performer than on her first solo tour after leaving the Sugarcubes.
It’s a measure of her fans’ respect that they received her free-tempo, minimally accompanied songs with full attention. Springing from Iceland’s art/music underground, Bjork seems oblivious to rules and restrictions, and the spirit of celebration inherent in her independence and eclecticism accounts for the strength of her bond with her audience.
It wasn’t surprising, then, that the crowd was also attentive to opening act Goldie, an Englishman on the cutting edge of the dance-music sub-genre called jungle. His polyrhythmic electronic clattering, overlaid with fragmentary, soulful vocals, has intriguing potential, but lacked the range and focus that would make it effective in concert.