By Jeremy Grand
For years Björk has been dazzling musical connoisseurs with unique beats, unrelenting vocals and a touch of uncommon culture. She has a notorious reputation of being quite the strange individual (we all remember the goose dress), but those odd qualities translated oh-so-well into music. Yet after all of these wonderful and aurally brilliant ventures, we can't help but feel a bit disappointed with this latest album, Volta.
Volta starts with "Earth Intruders," produced by the lately highly coveted (and rightly so) Timbaland. The song has great deep, dark beats and a fun danceable aura that Björk seems to be pushing aside more and more to make room for her often less interesting slower tunes.
On that note, Björk is accompanied on two tracks ("Dull Flame of Desire," and "Juvenile") by Antony and the Johnsons, a popular independent presence, but an acquired taste nonetheless. The two voices carry each other well, but the addition of another uncommon vocal to Björk's is really, really unnecessary. The songs are pretty, but they would definitely be a lot prettier if she was by herself.
In between a lot of the songs Björk seems to be getting a little bit too artsy for her own good. It seems that her artist boyfriend Matthew Barney has gotten to her head, using what seems to be excess sound bytes from Barney's Cremaster films or his latest art film Drawing Restraint 9 (which Björk created the soundtrack for and starred in). Volta could definitely do without it, for we want and crave the music, not a CD of sound effects.
One of the best and simplest songs on the album, "Declare Independence," is a fun rally song, speaking to the times with a damn-the-man kind of attitude that doesn't exactly make you want to start a riot, but does make you want to at least want to flip someone of importance off. Björk just does not have that kind of political power, but it is definitely fun to watch her try, and have everyone raise their flag right next to her.
As a whole, Volta is awfully disappointing. After the innovative Medulla, fans were probably expecting something more, or at least just as innovative, but instead they just got some dull flame of undesire.
Published May 13, 2008
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