REVIEW: Björk’s “Utopia”

Björk, Utopia (One Little Indian)

Utopia is a counterpoint to Björk’s last release, 2015’s Vulnicura. Where the latter album is inspired by post-divorce feelings of loss, pain and despair, Utopia floats in on a cloud, with flutes, cosmic bird chirps and airy melodies.

As an audio experience, the album — her lengthiest album to date — is a little like an unnecessarily long Tinder date, where you enjoyed the drinks but don’t want to stay for the full multi-course dinner. This is true even within individual compositions — the beginning and end of “The Gate” have interesting structures, but the middle is a constant loop that is seemingly inescapable.

This new record, marks a milestone in Björk’s career, as she allowed another artist — Arca — to fully collaborate with her from the beginning of the project’s songwriting and production, and the creative overlap seems to have worked some of the time. “Losss” and “Sue Me” have an impeccable fusion of flutes, heavy glitching, post-­trip hop and post-­techno layers underneath Björk’s soft, aerial vocals, a surprising treat in the middle of the record. This is the kind of innovative experimentation that we’ve come to admire her for, but a couple of songs cannot save this album, which falls extremely short of its predecessor.

Overall, the lack of interconnectivity makes Utopia feel like an unfinished experiment. The concepts are refreshing, but more production time could’ve helped. That being said, perhaps the album needs more listens and processing time than her previous work — only time will tell.


Trial Track: “The Gate”

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