THIS week, a landmark album turns 30. Yes, The Smiths’ The Queen Is Dead set the benchmark for all Indie rock, propelling the band into such fame the NME would write at least one article a week on them per week for the rest of time.
So here at SCM, we’re reviewing Björk.
Post turns 21 this week, and it’s easily one of Björk’s finest records. After the astounding beautiful and diverse Debut, Björk advanced with an album that kept to the mantra of creating diverse sounds and primarily focussing on her distinguished and individual vocals. Now normally this might be an issue; when an artist doesn’t really change their sound it can become a bit of a bore. But Björk has such a diverse range, Post covers so much more ground that Debut never even touched. As a result, this album maintains a sense of enjoyment, but also feels more grown up, more mature than its predecessor.
As Björk’s involvement with the UK club scene increased, as did her use of electronic elements in her music. Collaborating with Tricky and drawing from the growing Trip Hop scene in the UK lead to tracks like ‘Enjoy’, with its pulsating drum beat , erratic saxophone solo and programmed bass solo. Opener ‘Army Of Me’ is a pumping, hardcore-electronic number which introduces the album with a bang. Björk’s vocals are almost threatening as she comes out with lines like: ‘if you complain once more, you’ll meet an army of me’. It’s an unexpected threat. This is followed by ‘Hyperballad’, a song that deals with the fragility of life, using twinkling little electronic glitches to illustrate its point musically. It’s a total change of pace from ‘Army Of Me’, and shows Björk musing over ‘car-parts, bottles and cutlery’ or whatever she finds lying around.
But on the total flipside we have orchestral and cinematic cuts that totally go the opposite direction musically. The obvious example is ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’, a cover of a Betty Hutton, and one of Björk’s most popular numbers. It’s a song that not only shows the sheer range of Björk’s vocals, but also reeks of pure old school cinema, especially when sandwiched between ‘The Modern Things’ and ‘Enjoy’. But for more tender cuts, see ‘You’ve Been Flirting Again’ and the hauntingly beautiful ‘Possibly Maybe’ (which DJ Shadow sampled flawlessly on Endtroducing). Björk’s layered vocals in this track feel ghostly and tender, and coupled with the soft synthersizers make for one of the most wonderful moments on this album.
Like a lot of Björk’s work, the subject matter of love in prevalent throughout this album. But it ranges from all sides; ‘Hyperballad’ sees Björk in love with the smaller details of the world, ‘Enjoy’ and ‘You’ve Been Flirting Again’ tackle the open-ended nature of flirtation, while ‘I Miss You’ is obviously sentimental, perhaps the more obvious of the songs on this record. When Björk talks about love though, it seems so much more… mysterious. It’s often hard to distinguish her actual emotions through beautiful lyricism that’s woven amongst the eclectic instrumentalism and brilliant production.
Post would be the last Björk album of its kind. After a disturbing event in her life, she ditched her pixie image and took her music into darker territory, in albums like Homogenic and Medúlla. But Post stands testament of what Björk could achieve when playing it safe. Debut and Post are a great couple of albums which are an awesome introduction to Björk’s increasingly diverse discography.
Happy Birthday Post, you can legally drink in America now.
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