One Little Indian/Nonesuch
Oct 10, 2011 Web Exclusive
Since 1997's Homogenic, Björk's career peak in this writer's opinion, she has steadily released a new album every three to four years and with each new release, she has yielded fewer and fewer returns. This is not to say that Vespertine, Medulla, and Volta were bad albums, but they all did fail to capture the magic of Björk's '90s hot streak, in which she managed to be both effortlessly innovative and effortlessly melodic. Unfortunately, Biophilia continues this downward trend.
Biophilia plays like a compendium of Björk's last four albums: Homogenic's icy beats, Vespertine's gossamer romanticism, Medulla's a cappella excursions, and Volta's folk instrumentation are all present. Unsurprisingly, the songs that fare best are the ones most indebted to Homogenic. Although it may not be new territory for Björk, the coupling of luminous organ and bursts of jagged electronics on "Crystalline," "Sacrifice," and "Mutual Core" still sound fresh and entrancing.
The album's midpoint is certainly its nadir. "Dark Matter" and "Hollow" must be the limpest, most bloodless compositions Björk has ever released. "Dark Matter" consists of nothing more than Björk cooing over a soft, monotonous organ drone. "Hollow" is just as sparse, but the drone has been replaced with ominous organ stabs that can't be bothered to form anything resembling a melody. Elsewhere, "Moon" and "Solstice" offer interminable versions of Joanna Newsom's harp-laden poetry.
Biophilia has been billed as "an interdisciplinary exploration of the universe and its physical forces—particularly those where music, nature, and technology meet." While I applaud the idea and intent, I can't focus or care about the concept if I don't care about the music. Several tracks do reclaim some of Björk's past glory and inspire a bit of wonder, but the majority of Biophilia meanders weightlessly into space. (www.bjork.com)
Author rating: 5/10
Average reader rating: 8/10