(Out November 24)
Björk has always tested the boundaries of pop music, and Utopia is no exception. While the artist’s eighteenth release has moments that are reminiscent of earlier work, like the classic Vespertine and the ambitious Medulla, Björk experiments in new ways in this latest album. Utopia is built on a surprising foundation of baroque-style flutes—more than a dozen flutists are listed in the credits—and sound collages of Venezuelan bird calls. Even stranger, these pastoral elements are juxtaposed with lyrics about decidedly contemporary issues like texting, mixtapes, and MP3s. Björk weaves these seemingly contradictory parts into a complex, elegant, and cohesive whole. While her previous release, Vulnicura, chronicled a brutal heartbreak, Utopia is a refreshingly blissful, hopeful album. Even the dark and suspenseful centerpiece, the epic “Body Memory,” ends on a triumphant note. Only Björk could have created an album that feels so ancient and futuristic at the same time.
By Sarah C. Jones
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Sarah Jones is a librarian based in Philadelphia.