On her last album Vulnicura, Björk’s vulnerability was apparent. It was a gut-wrenching break-up album that spawned some of her darkest and most heartbreaking songs. Her personal despair was revealing but no less enthralling, but now her new effort is sort of an update on her state. She has found her own personal Utopia. Appropriately titled Utopia, the Icelandic superstar is now in a place of paradise. Paradise that was molded by her resilience. In this Utopian paradise we are offered brilliantly sprawled flute choirs, heavenly harps, and Arca’s explosive production that sporadically erupts at the most unpredictable moments, adding chaotic but necessary contrast to the lighter moments. Björk’s lyrics are filled with love, but it is love that leaves her unsure. Love that leaves her frantic, and it is a reflection of the internet age we live in and how it plays a role in young love or lust. The track Courtship reflects on dating websites and how superficial sites like these can be. “He turned me down, I then downturned another, who then downturned her” Björk sings detailing the world of dating sites like Tinder. The album’s second track Blissing Me tells the tale of two young people who fall in love through a mutual taste in music. They send each other music and talk for hours about their similar tastes, but then Björk playing the role of one of these so-called lovers wonders if she’s in love with this man or his music. Does she really love him? Or is she just in love with the idea of being in love? Moments like these explore and expose the many complexities people may face in relationships, but while these moments keep the listener grounded and down to earth, the listener is also taken on a journey through Björk’s Utopia. The title track invites us to a nature filled place surrounded with bird calls and flutes. This is a peaceful place but something is poisoning the air and damaging her serenity. Whether or not this is a metaphor for her past relationship is unclear, but it is a gorgeous moment on the album, but I dare you to find a moment on this album that isn’t gorgeous or captivating. Everything from the production to her thoughtful lyrics of love and overcoming the past are all packaged perfectly, and it’s astonishing that she still has the power to soften even the toughest of hearts. After the explorations of love, her resilience, and even the personification of music on the track Saint, Björk ends the album on a positive note with Future Forever. “Imagine a future, and be in it,” she sings while urging us to always look forward and to strive to make this world a better place. If you’re not already there, you too can find your own personal Utopia.
Written By: Steven Sandoval
Date: November 25, 2017