Support Local Journalism. Join Riverfront Times Press Club.

Björk 

Volta (Atlantic)

While her flamboyant outfits might never be polite, Björk's last few albums certainly were. The ice-crystal percussion and melodies on Vespertine were stunning but mannered, like an immaculately decorated parlor, while the nearly a cappella Medulla — an album where beatboxing and throat-singing replaced traditional instrumentation — felt too gimmicky and academic, and lacked the mischief that marked her previous pop experiments.

Fortunately, Björk's gleeful sense of adventure is back on Volta, perhaps thanks to her rediscovery of rhythm. Collaborators such as Timbaland, Lightning Bolt's Brian Chippendale, the African band Konono No.1 and a ten-piece Icelandic brass choir make Volta's songs leap alive — from the going-to-battle anxiety of the cinematic, marching "Vertebrae by Vertebrae," to fireworks-esque programming on a triumphant "Wanderlust" and the outer-space drum circle driving the bumpy carousel-whirl "Earth Intruders." The slow-burning highlight "Declare Independence" even sounds downright dangerous, with bleating beats and thundering synths short-circuiting around Björk as she screams, with more unabashed emotion than she's let loose in years, "Raise your flag! Declare independence! Don't let them do that to you!"

Still, those hoping for a carbon-copy of Post or Homogenic will be somewhat disappointed: Volta's songs are as ornate, but generally lack brevity and a willingness to conform to traditional pop structure — meaning that some songs tend to run for too long, or are simply as ephemeral as a melting icicle. But the big difference is that Björk seems to feel completely comfortable in her creative skin on Volta; this nonchalance allows her beautiful quirkiness to burst forth with joy.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.

Speaking of...

Read the Digital Print Issue

June 16, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2021 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation