Björk – Utopia (2017)

Björk’s most immediate album since 2001’s “Vespertine,” “Utopia” displays some of the Icelandic virtuoso’s most notable strengths, like her willingness to experiment with her sound while pushing her vocals in unexpected ways. In fact, it’s nice to hear this side of Björk after a series of esoteric and difficult studio albums: It’s got the same vulnerability and softness of “Vespertine” but a dash of the same aggressive, intense fortitude as 1997’s “Homogenic.” Songs like lead single “The Gate” show off her forward-thinking, deliberately paced contortions of musical expectations, while “Claimstaker” and “Blissing Me” find the singular artist at a crossroads between moving forward in leaps and bounds, or standing still if only for a moment. It’s still got some of the messiness and clutter of her later albums, but the overall experience is rewarding on a sonic level rather than an academic one, which is a nice reprieve.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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