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Bjork – Vespertine

January 7, 2008

It’s sixty degrees outside. Why is it sixty degrees outside? I live in Chicago for Christ’s sake. It’s January. It should be sixty degrees lower than it is. Although I suppose I shouldn’t complain about not being miserable every time I leave my house. But something about listening to Bjork’s Vespertine makes me feel like it SHOULD be cold, and snowing. Vespertine is as much a work of art as it is a force of nature, a call to the skies for snow, a summoning of a white blanket. This is not Bjork’s best album. Homogenic will most likely never be ousted from that position. But it is certainly the second greatest, and the most consistently themed, a chilling representation of Winter. This album makes the season of death come to life. Songs are blanketed in steady, warm, electronic beats and subsequently dressed up in soaring vocal harmonies and strings. Hidden Place kicks things off with a call to the unknown, represented by a mysterious melody that climbs and gently cascades back down a choral harmony. It’s Not Up To You is similarly immediate but this time more happy, also given string treatment in addition to well placed harp glissandos. As with most Bjork albums, the best songs are utterly unstoppable. Hidden Place, It’s Not Up To You, Pagan Poetry, and Aurora all deserve places on any Best of Bjork compilation yet to be released, as they all either match or trump anything on Post in terms of poppy fun. But the fun hardly stops there. There are several other fun songs, namely Frosti, Crabcraft, and Sun In My Mouth, all worth getting to know on their own chilly and beautiful terms. Also like most Bjork albums, good and bad, Vespertine has several clunkers and is prone to being uninteresting. Particularly, Cocoon and Undo have uninspired melodies that cannot be saved simply by being dressed up. In this way, Vespertine is far from the best it could be, but all things considered, it is a very pretty album that is to be respected as an album that suceeds on its own terms and creates lush, sophisticated styles that make it completely memorable.

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