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Björk - Post CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.54 | 124 ratings

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2 stars Yet another sophomore slump

Bjork and Tori Amos hung out a bit back in the day, no doubt mutual admirers of the other's work. There are some parallels to their careers in the way that their albums struck me. Both arrived with a fresh and vibrant debut album, both in my opinion tanked on their attempted follow-up, and both recovered later on. "Post" featured material written by Bjork after her arrival in England. She was dealing with new material, great success with Debut, a cavalry of too many people around to "help", and a strong desire to bring back producer Nellee Hooper who had made the debut such a success. Hooper however seemed a bit burned out with Bjork and in the end he agreed to help oversee but wanted far less intricate involvement. While many of the critics were sufficiently enamored and the album was another commercial success, I believe it to be a real mess and the weakest album in Bjork canon (though I've not yet heard Volta or Medulla). Fittingly, the album cover is just awful, somehow both gaudy and generic, absolutely nothing special for an artist so attuned to visual art.

It's difficult for me to find much praise for the material on Post. The lead-off track "Army of Me" suffers from a noisy sludge of too much sound. The lyrical themes I can personally appreciate however, as Bjork takes a surprisingly harsh no-nonsense tone to tell people to get their shit together and man up. "It's me saying, 'just get to work, stop this.' You come to a point where you've done everything you can do for them, and the only thing that's going to sort them out is themselves. It's time to get things done." Another absolute Bjork low point is the painful-to-hear "It's Oh So Quiet" which features Bjork doing a show number from the 1940s that the media and public went nuts over. To her credit, Bjork would later regret covering the song as she grew weary of it. I was weary of it before it finished playing the first time I heard it.

While there are fewer good songs here than on Debut there are a couple of nice tracks. "You've Been Flirting Again" was her first solo production credit and her first string arrangement, and she was most proud of this achievement at the time. It's a melancholic and sparse piece with just her voice and strings to carry it. "Isobel" is a track whose long story runs as far back as her days in the band Kukl (pre-Sugarcubes). It is complex and moving without requiring the sludgy, suffocating electronica that drowns some of her other songs on the album. The string arrangements are nothing short of luscious, breathtaking. It is easily the high point of the Post album along with the following "Possibly Maybe," a seductive and hot/cool accounting of a relationship that was falling apart at the time. The pulsing beats, sound effects, and repeating soft background keyboard runs counter her painful lyrics and passionate vocal. (The video was equally impressive.)

My problem with the other tracks isn't necessarily the heavily repetitive sounding rhythms, but the fact that it sort of lulls the songs into similarity; many of them are truly short of the natural charm that sells her best stuff. Another problem which begins to emerge more frequently on the Post album is her use of certain vocal tics, grunts, moans, quirks, etc. She's not the only vocalist guilty of this, and in her defense the sounds are probably not entirely conscious. When used sparingly these can be an endearing personality trait that adds to the material. When appearing too often to spice up a track it can get tiring, and perhaps this is why certain vocalists end up parodied on shows like Saturday Night Live. This has nothing to do with her accent or her beautiful natural voice, it's just an observation of her performance habits.

So, there is not enough here for me to recommend Post beyond the Bjork fanbase whom already own the title anyway. I can barely stand to listen to Post anymore and I think the critics worldwide were way too generous with this one.

Finnforest | 2/5 |


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