Björk is an artist, a musician, and a poet who possesses the power to carry listeners and viewers on journeys through alien worlds. She invites us to embrace a colorful spectrum of emotions through intimate stories woven between powerful melodies. Her 9th studio album Utopia brings us into a flute-filled Utopian world — the result of the profound and therapeutic isolation where she rediscovered herself after the suffering we learned about from her 2015 album Vulnicura, which dealt with a painful break-up from her long-time partner.
While the mood of Vulnicura was paralleled with an ensemble of dark, powerful and emotional strings, Utopia brings us into an airy world that seduces us with groups of flutes, electric synths, and vocal harmonies that are reminiscent of my two favorite Björk albums (Vespertine and Medulla). From these albums she brings over lyrics that are seductively intimate, aided by a melodic choir made up of human voices and complex synths.
Perhaps the most notably significant tone of the album is her ability to create an abstract and dissonant composition, orchestrated by small flute ensemble The Icelandic Hamrahild Choir, while embedding it into a lush wave of synths and glitch pop that is reminiscent of songs like “Cocoon.”
If the orchestration itself hasn’t completely transported you into the lustful paradise she’s created, the lyrics carry themes that help place you into her Garden of Eden that is full of promises of new love and exploration. “Blissing Me” describes a scene of two music nerds falling in love, a relatable concept that explores the giddy feeling of crushes and emotional connections.
Utopia has received wide critical acclaim, and if you haven’t listened from start to finish yet, don’t waste another minute. Discover a world of lust and love with an album that Björk describes to Dazed Magazine as her “Tinder” album — “It is definitely about that search — and about being in love. Spending time with a person you enjoy on every level is obviously utopia, you know? I mean, it’s real. It’s when the dream comes real.”
If you consider Utopia as a response to “Vulnicura,” the two albums inspire hope by suggesting that rebirth follows suffering and isolation. Watch her dream world come to reality in the trailer for “Utopia” and music video for “Blissing Me,” and slip into another world. —Asal Shahindoust
Utopia is officially out everywhere.