OK, cards on the table, this is an all-time top five favourite album for me, no messing. At first I preferred Debut and then for a long time REDACTED was my favourite but over the years this has become one of those rare few records I can go back to again and again and still find myself deeply moved by. Anyway, the story behind it is that Björk wanted to make an album based mainly around strings, hard beats and the voice - a record with a consistent sound in contrast to the eclecticism of Debut and Post. She also wanted this album to reflect her Icelandic roots, so naturally it was recorded in *checks notes* Spain. I have to say that to me it feels very much like a continuation and a refining of the Post sound but it is definitely more of a focussed body of work and I'm going to try and do it justice by talking about every song. It opens with the low-key 'Hunter' and straight away the production sounds light years away from Debut (a testament to how quickly electronic was moving in the '90s I'd say). I love how it builds up to the bright, major-key bridge and then goes suddenly back to icy coldness again. Next up is 'Joga' which is probably my favourite Björk song, just the absolute best melody and vocal. The beats here are crunchy, crunchy is the keyword for the beats on this album, I also particularly love the shift in the time signature/measure(??) on the "state of emergency" bit. Track 3, 'Unravel', is gorgeous, you can practically sink into it, it's the most warm and comforting music I can think of despite the lyric about love being stolen by the devil. 'Bachelorette' is apparently a sequel to 'Human Behaviour' and 'Isobel' - I didn't know this until recently but it is stylistically quite similar to the latter. It's great although the vocal melody in the verse is a bit basic by Björk's standards (my favourite bit is actually the ascending pre-chorus). Oh it also does that thing where everything fades out at the end to leave one lone instrument that was previously buried in the mix (in this case, an accordion), I love it when songs that do that. 'All Neon Like' sounds like its title, another glowing, soothing lullaby like 'Unravel' and another favourite track of mine. So yeah the first half is just incredible. Side B kicks off with a change of mood in '5 Years', another crunchy beats one with these great sort of ping-pong reverby bridge sections. It's probably the song that sticks most closely to the beats + strings concept. I've no idea how tracks like this would sound to someone hearing it for the first time in 2018 to be honest - the same goes for 'Immature' which was my initial favourite when I bought the CD back in 1998. Very catchy despite its repetitive tune and lack of real chorus, also beautifully produced again. 'Alarm Call' is a proper pop song and had a working title of 'Jacko', Christ, imagine if MJ was releasing songs this good in 1997 instead of 'Earth Song (Hani's Club Experience)'! The penultimate track is 'Pluto' which I used to sort of hate but it eventually grew on me - it's deliberately abrasive in a very 1997 way but I can get behind that now. Also love the opening lines "Excuse me/But I just have to explode", oh well if you're going to be so polite about it then sure, why not. After this it's back down to earth with 'All Is Full of Love' which is NOT the version from the single/famous video but a different mix by Howie B. I think I actually prefer this one, it's a long, slow dissolve of a song it which makes for a great closer. So yeah, there you have it, it's the best Björk album because it has the best songs and if you haven't heard it I will gladly tape you a copy.
10/10 BEST OF MUSIC