Tuesday, February 19, 2008
No. 373: Post
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Icelandic diva Björk is one of music's most distinct voices and one of our culture's strangers characters. Her warbling vocals and pan-genre music reached its apex on "Post," her follow-up to "Debut."
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: I'm happy with this album here. It's clearly a fine record, though one that, ultimately, doesn't matter a ton.
Best song: The opener, "Army of Me," is the best song on the record.
Worst song: "Cover Me" isn't great.
Is it awesome?: It is a fine, fine, album. I really like it.
Björk is a strange, strange person. She often dresses in Peter Gabriel-esque costumes, both while performing and on the red carpet. She sometimes beats up photographers..
Also, her videos are kind of strange:
"Human Behavior," from "Debut"
"Army of Me," from "Post"
"It's Oh So Quiet," from "Post"
All is Full Of Love," from "Homogenic"
I don't know anyone from Iceland, so I sometime wonder if Icelanders think Björk's strangeness is normal. As in, is Iceland just a land of Björks in the same way I think of Sweden as full of Ikea workers and I think everyone in the Dominican Republic plays baseball.
"Post" is a pretty remarkable album in the same way that Björk herself is remarkable. Her collaborations with Tricky, particularly, sound remarkably cool. The album's lead single, "Army of Me," features a fantastic industrial sound, later echoed on "Echo." "Hyperballad," while still electronic-sounding, could almost double as a Bedhead song in its slowcore-ness. The keyboard on "Isobel" is evocative and pretty, while "I Miss You" is the type of thing played in discos worldwide.
"It's Oh So Quiet" is a cover of an old jazz song released by Betty Hutton, "Blow a Fuse." It was mostly a joke and has since been mostly disowned by Björk. Nevertheless, one of the questions it brings up to me is the idea of singing in one's non-native language. Often, in "It's Oh So Quiet," it is hard to understand her voice. Because Björk's voice is so, well, strange, it's hard to tell if it's her voice or the language barrier that makes her hard to understand.
This later comes up "The Modern Things," when she sings in her native tongue. The later verses are in Icelandic and I, obviously, don't speak Icelandic. Still, it probably is more natural than her heavily accented English.
Nevertheless, "Post" is amazing. It's the type of album that's both challenging and catchy.