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Pop - Released June 22, 1993 | 143 - Atlantic Entertainment

Freed from the Sugarcubes' confines, Björk takes her voice and creativity to new heights on Debut, her first work after the group's breakup. With producer Nellee Hooper's help, she moves in an elegantly playful, dance-inspired direction, crafting highly individual, emotional electronic pop songs like the shivery, idealistic "One Day" and the bittersweet "Violently Happy." Despite the album's swift stylistic shifts, each of Debut's tracks are distinctively Björk. "Human Behaviour"'s dramatic percussion provides a perfect showcase for her wide-ranging voice; "Aeroplane" casts her as a yearning lover against a lush, exotica-inspired backdrop; and the spare, poignant "Anchor Song" uses just her voice and a brass section to capture the loneliness of the sea. Though Debut is just as arty as anything she recorded with the Sugarcubes, the album's club-oriented tracks provide an exciting contrast to the rest of the album's delicate atmosphere. Björk's playful energy ignites the dance-pop-like "Big Time Sensuality" and turns the genre on its head with "There's More to Life Than This." Recorded live at the Milk Bar Toilets, it captures the dancefloor's sweaty, claustrophobic groove, but her impish voice gives it an almost alien feel. But the album's romantic moments may be its most striking; "Venus as a Boy" fairly swoons with twinkly vibes and lush strings, and Björk's vocals and lyrics -- "His wicked sense of humor/Suggests exciting sex" -- are sweet and just the slightest bit naughty. With harpist Corky Hale, she completely reinvents "Like Someone in Love," making it one of her own ballads. Possibly her prettiest work, Björk's horizons expanded on her other releases, but the album still sounds fresh, which is even more impressive considering electronic music's whiplash-speed innovations. Debut not only announced Björk's remarkable talent; it suggested she had even more to offer. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Pop - Released May 23, 1995 | 143 - Lava - Atlantic

After Debut's success, the pressure was on Björk to surpass that album's creative, tantalizing electronic pop. She more than delivered with 1995's Post; from the menacing, industrial-tinged opener, "Army of Me," it's clear that this album is not simply Debut redux. The songs' production and arrangements -- especially those of the epic, modern fairy tale "Isobel" -- all aim for, and accomplish, more. Post also features Debut producer Nellee Hooper, 808 State's Graham Massey, Howie B, and Tricky, who help Björk incorporate a spectrum of electronic and orchestral styles into songs like "Hyperballad," which sounds like a love song penned by Aphex Twin. Meanwhile, the bristling beats on the volatile, sensual "Enjoy" and the fragile, weightless ballad "Possibly Maybe" nod to trip-hop without being overwhelmed by it. As on Debut, Björk finds new ways of expressing timeworn emotions like love, lust, and yearning in abstractly precise lyrics like "Since you went away/I'm wearing lipstick again/I suck my tongue in remembrance of you," from "Possibly Maybe." But Post's emotional peaks and valleys are more extreme than Debut's. "I Miss You"'s exuberance is so animated, it makes perfect sense that Ren & Stimpy's John Kricfalusi directed the song's video. Likewise, "It's Oh So Quiet" -- which eventually led to Björk's award-winning turn as Selma in Dancer in the Dark -- is so cartoonishly vibrant, it could have been arranged by Warner Bros. musical director Carl Stalling. Yet Björk sounds equally comfortable with an understated string section on "You've Been Flirting Again." "Headphones" ends the album on an experimental, hypnotic note, layering Björk's vocals over and over till they circle each other atop a bubbling, minimal beat. The work of a constantly changing artist, Post proves that as Björk moves toward more ambitious, complex music, she always surpasses herself. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Pop - Released August 3, 2004 | Rhino - Elektra

By the late '90s, Björk's playful, unique world view and singular voice became as confining as they were defining. With its surprising starkness and darkness, 1997's Homogenic shatters her "Icelandic pixie" image. Possibly inspired by her failed relationship with drum'n'bass kingpin Goldie, Björk sheds her more precious aspects, displaying more emotional depth than even her best previous work indicated. Her collaborators -- LFO's Mark Bell, Mark "Spike" Stent, and Post contributor Howie B -- help make this album not only her emotionally bravest work, but her most sonically adventurous as well. A seamless fusion of chilly strings (courtesy of the Icelandic String Octet), stuttering, abstract beats, and unique touches like accordion and glass harmonica, Homogenic alternates between dark, uncompromising songs such as the icy opener, "Hunter," and more soothing fare like the gently percolating "All Neon Like." The noisy, four-on-the-floor catharsis of "Pluto" and the raw vocals and abstract beats of "5 Years" and "Immature" reveal surprising amounts of anger, pain, and strength in the face of heartache. "I dare you to take me on," Björk challenges her lover in "5 Years," and wonders on "Immature," "How could I be so immature/To think he would replace/The missing elements in me?" "Bachelorette," a sweeping, brooding cousin to Post's "Isobel," is possibly Homogenic's saddest, most beautiful moment, giving filmic grandeur to a stormy relationship. Björk lets a little hope shine through on "Jòga," a moving song dedicated to her homeland and her best friend, and the reassuring finale, "All Is Full of Love." "Alarm Call"'s uplifting dance-pop seems out of place with the rest of the album, but as its title implies, Homogenic is her most holistic work. While it might not represent every side of Björk's music, Homogenic displays some of her most impressive heights. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 25, 2006 | Rhino - Elektra

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Electronic - Released November 24, 2017 | One Little Independent

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Pop - Released September 3, 2002 | Atlantic Records - ATG

Björk closed out her first decade as a solo artist with the retrospective Björk's Greatest Hits. Despite its somewhat pedestrian title and approach (especially considering some of her intricate import collections and box sets) she still managed to find a way to put a twist on the collection: she let her fans vote for which songs they wanted included on the track listing. Overall, they did a pretty good job; with the notable exception of "It's Oh So Quiet" -- which is probably her biggest single -- the collection touches on most of the biggest songs from each of her albums. The album puts most of its focus on the middle portion of her career to date, culling four tracks each from Post and Homogenic, but still makes room for old favorites such as Debut's "Venus as a Boy" and "Human Behaviour," as well as newer singles such as Vespertine's "Pagan Poetry" and "Hidden Place." One minor disappointment is the lack of any songs from her excellent Dancer in the Dark soundtrack, though the greatest-hits disc that appears in the Family Tree box set, which Björk herself compiled, includes that album's "Scatterheart" and "I've Seen It All" (as well as other great album tracks from her career, such as "Unravel" and "You've Been Flirting Again"). However, the inclusion of the somewhat hard-to-find "Play Dead" -- which appeared on the Young Americans soundtrack and was previously available most easily on a Japanese single -- and a new track, the lovely "It's in Our Hands," help compensate for the omissions about which fans could potentially complain. Arguably, since Björk isn't really an artist who lives and dies by the charts, virtually any of her songs could be considered fair game for inclusion on a collection like this; her body of work is so consistently strong that her album tracks are almost always as interesting (if not more so) as the songs that are deemed to be singles. And indeed, Björk's Greatest Hits does fulfill one of the main goals of a greatest-hits collection: it presents the many different sides of her sound, from playful to bittersweet to experimental, making it a good introduction to those unfamiliar with her music and a convenient collection for her fans. Die-hard Björk fans might want a domestically available B-sides or rarities collection instead, but Björk's Greatest Hits is quite possibly the first step in that direction -- and a nice way to celebrate the beginning of another decade's worth of her innovative music. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 20, 2015 | One Little Independent

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Pop - Released August 31, 2004 | Elektra Records

It's hard to accuse Björk of making music influenced by commercial or critical expectations at any point in her career, but her post-Homogenic work is even more focused on following her bliss, whether that means acting and singing in Lars Von Trier's grim musical Dancer in the Dark; crafting tiptoeing laptop lullabies on Vespertine; or, in the case of Medúlla, sculpting an album out of almost nothing but singing and vocal samples. The album's title and concept refer to the purest essence of something, and Medúlla explores both the ritual power of the human voice and some of the most essential themes of Björk's music in a way that's both primal and elaborate. It took a large cast of characters to make the album's seemingly organic sound, including vocalists ranging from Icelandic and British choirs to Inuit singers to Mike Patton and Robert Wyatt; programmers like Matmos, Mark Bell, and Mark "Spike" Stent; and beatboxers such as Rahzel and the onomatopoeically named Japanese artist Dokaka. Several songs are sung in Icelandic, which works especially well, not only because it ties in with Medúlla's concept, but also because of the language's sonic qualities: the rolling Rs, guttural stops, and elongated vowels reflect the alternately chopped and soaring arrangements behind them. Neopaganism and unfettered sensuality also wind through the album, particularly on "Mouth's Cradle," along with meditative, Vespertine-like pieces such as "Desired Constellation." Medúlla is unusually intimate: Björk's voice is miked very closely, and with the dense layers of vocals surrounding her, it often sounds as if you're listening to the album from inside her larynx. Some of the heavy breathing, grunts, and ululating woven into the album come close to provoking physical reactions: the eerie sighs and throat singing on the feral "Ancestors" make the chest ache and suggest a particularly melodic pack of wolves. Meanwhile, there's something simian about Dokaka's gleeful babbling and beats on "Triumph of a Heart." Despite its gentler moments, Medúlla's raw rhythms and rarefied choral washes make it the most challenging work of Björk's career. "Where Is the Line" is one of her tough, no-nonsense songs, and Rahzel's hard-hitting beats make it starker than anything on Homogenic. Even relatively accessible songs, like the gone-native loveliness of "Who Is It (Carry My Joy on the Left, Carry My Pain on the Right)" and "Oceania," which Björk wrote for the 2004 Athens Olympics, have an alien quality that is all the stranger considering that nearly all of their source material is human (except for the odd keyboard or two). Actually, fans of world, contemporary classical, or avant-garde music might find more to appreciate in Medúlla than anyone looking for a "Human Behaviour" or "It's Oh So Quiet." It's not an immediate album, but it is a fascinating one, especially for anyone interested in the world's oldest instrument being used in unexpected ways. [Medúlla was also released in a limited-edition digipack with a bonus poster.] © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 9, 2010 | One Little Independent

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 9, 2010 | One Little Independent

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 11, 2011 | Nonesuch

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 8, 2007 | Atlantic Records - ATG

Once again finding harmony and creating alchemy between seeming opposites, on Volta Björk is bold but thoughtful, delicate yet strong, accessible and avant. The intricacy and complexity of projects like Medúlla and Drawing Restraint 9 suggested that she might have left the more direct side of her work behind, but Volta's opening track and lead single, "Earth Intruders," puts that notion to rest: the song literally marches in, riding a bubbling, ritualistic beat courtesy of Timbaland and Konono No. 1's electric thumb-pianos. Björk howls "Turmoil! Carnage!" like incantations over the din, and after several albums' worth of beautiful whispers, it's a joy to hear her raise her voice and volume like this. "Wanderlust" follows and provides the yin to "Earth Intruders"' yang, its horns and brooding melody giving it the feel of a moodier, more contemplative version of "The Anchor Song." These two songs set the tone for the rest of Volta's pendulum-like swings between sounds and moods, all of which are tied together by found-sound and brass-driven interludes that give the impression that the album was recorded in a harbor -- an apt metaphor for how ideas and collaborators come and go on this album. Timbaland's beats resurface on "Innocence," another of Volta's most potent moments; a sample of what sounds like a man getting punched in the gut underscores Björk's viewpoint that purity is something powerful, not gentle. Antony and the Johnsons' Antony Hegarty lends his velvety voice to two outstanding but very different love songs: "The Dull Flame of Desire" captures swooning romance by pairing Björk and Hegarty's voices with a slowly building tattoo courtesy of Lightning Bolt drummer Brian Chippendale; "My Juvenile," which is dedicated to Björk's son Sindri, closes Volta with a much gentler duet. Considering how much sonic and emotional territory the album spans -- from the brash, anthemic "Declare Independence," which sounds a bit like Homogenic's "Pluto," to "Pneumonia" and "Vertebrae by Vertebrae," which are as elliptical and gentle as anything on Vespertine or Drawing Restraint 9 -- Volta could very easily sound scattered, but this isn't the case. Instead, it finds the perfect balance between the vibrancy of her poppier work in the '90s and her experiments in the 2000s. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 9, 2010 | One Little Independent

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Electronic - Released September 2, 2014 | One Little Independent

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Pop - Released May 5, 2009 | Elektra Records

Selmasongs: Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack Dancer in the Dark is, and is not, a Björk album. While it's filled with rampant creativity, startling emotional leaps, and breathtaking vocals and arrangements, it isn't as playful as her other albums, even 1997's relatively dark Homogenic. Instead, it presents Björk as Selma, her character from Lars von Trier's Dancer in the Dark: a Czech factory worker who is going blind but finds hope and refuge in the musicals she watches at the cinema. (Von Trier wanted to work with Björk after seeing Spike Jonze's musical-inspired video for "It's Oh So Quiet.") She acts through the music she composed, performed, and produced with conductor/arranger Vincent Mendoza and her longtime collaborators Mark "Spike" Stent and Mark Bell. Selma's unsinkable optimism and tragic end are telegraphed through songs like the irrepressible, cartoonish "Cvalda" to the sad, starry lullaby "Scatterheart." Selmasongs' best tracks are poignant, inventive expressions of Björk's talent and Selma's daydreams and suffering. "In the Musicals" shows how easy it is for Selma to slip into one of her Technicolor reveries: "There is always someone to catch me," Björk sighs as clouds of strings, harps, and xylophones rise up to meet her. "New World" reprises the simultaneously hopeful and ominous melody of "Overture," adding striking vocals and shuffling, industrial beats that reflect Selma's life in the factory as well as Björk's distinctive style. Selmasongs also succeeds as a soundtrack, sketching in details of Selma's story. "I've Seen It All," a duet with Thom Yorke, captures her stunted romance with a co-worker, while the tense "107 Steps" takes the listener to her journey's end. Intimate and theatrical, innovative and tied to tradition, Selmasongs paints a portrait of a woman losing her sight, but it maintains Björk's unique vision. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 10, 1997 | 143 - Lava - Atlantic

In theory, Telegram is a remixed album of all the songs from Post, but the arrangements are so different, it might as well be another record entirely. Björk has re-recorded several of her vocals, handing the original backing tracks to a variety of producers and musicians -- everyone from Dillinja to the Brodsky Quartet. While Telegram provides some of the most challenging listening yet heard on a Björk album, it is essentially because the new arrangements are radical -- in terms of electronic dance music, the actual music and remixes are far from radical. Still, Telegram works as an excellent introduction to techno for alternative pop fans unsure of where to begin exploring. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 11, 2011 | Nonesuch

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Over the years, the packaging of Björk's albums grew famously, and increasingly, elaborate, but Biophilia is the first Björk project where the set of songs isn’t the complete package. Designed as a suite of interactive iPad and iPhone apps that explore humanity’s relationships with sound and the universe, the album’s concept was so grand that it began as a musical house and ended up including scientists, engineers, video game designers, and film directors among Björk's collaborators. Biophilia's boldest innovations are in its presentation rather than in the actual music, which is surprisingly subtle and intimate given the concept’s immense scope, but the perfect size to be cradled in a lap or palm. Björk recorded parts of the album on an iPad, and these songs retain that intimacy. They also recall Vespertine, which was made primarily on a laptop and also kept the closeness of its creation, as well as Homogenic's percussive onslaughts, particularly on the literally volcanic “Mutual Core.” Minus the project’s other layers, Biophilia sometimes feels like a soundtrack; songs such as the album-opening “Moon” are so soft and delicate that they take a while to reveal themselves without their corresponding visuals. But just because the music is only one part of the Biophilia experience doesn’t mean it’s unsatisfying. Björk embodies each song’s musical, scientific, and emotional concepts fully and cleverly: “Crystalline”’s insistent repetition captures mineral formations shooting out of the ground, especially when drum’n’bass beats explode halfway through the song. Biophilia's educational side is never boring, in part because Björk relates bigger phenomena to easily understood, and often tangible, occurrences; the earth is tilted on its axis like a human heart, and DNA is an “everlasting necklace.” The gorgeous “Virus” expresses its multiplying phrases in a love song with facts and emotions in perfect harmony: “Like a virus needs a body/As soft tissue feeds on blood/Someday I’ll find you/The urge is here.” However, the most exciting thing about Biophilia is how it expresses the cycle of discovery and wonder. Knowledge and mystery don’t have to be enemies: on “Cosmogony,” science and spirituality hold hands and creation myths sit next to facts. Björk holds the sheer magnitude of the album together with repeated motifs -- moons, stars, pearls, hearts, hands, and above all generosity -- that reflect Biophilia's layered meanings of love, life, and love of life. The album even completes an orbit with “Solstice" -- which features gravity harps built especially for this project (the CD version of the album also features three bonus tracks, including the hurtling, previously unreleased “Nattura”). Expectations run high whenever Björk announces a new album: how will she top herself? Biophilia is easily her most ambitious project as a whole, but its music is more about completion than competition, even against herself. Educational and emotional in a uniquely approachable way, these songs are a lovely part of a bigger picture. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Pop - Released August 3, 2004 | Rhino - Elektra

After cathartic statements like Homogenic, the role of Selma in Dancer in the Dark, and the film's somber companion piece, Selmasongs, it's not surprising that Björk's first album in four years is less emotionally wrenching. But Vespertine isn't so much a departure from her previous work as a culmination of the musical distance she's traveled; within songs like the subtly sensual "Hidden Place" and "Undo" are traces of Debut and Post's gentle loveliness, as well as Homogenic and Selmasongs' reflective, searching moments. Described by Björk as "about being on your own in your house with your laptop and whispering for a year and just writing a very peaceful song that tiptoes," Vespertine's vocals seldom rise above a whisper, the rhythms mimic heartbeats and breathing, and a pristine, music-box delicacy unites the album into a deceptively fragile, hypnotic whole. Even relatively immediate, accessible songs such as "It's Not Up to You," "Pagan Poetry," and "Unison" share a spacious serenity with the album's quietest moments. Indeed, the most intimate songs are among the most varied, from the seductively alien "Cocoon" to the dark, obsessive "An Echo, A Stain" to the fairy tale-like instrumental "Frosti." The beauty of Vespertine's subtlety may be lost on Björk fans demanding another leap like the one she made between Post and Homogenic, but like the rest of the album, its innovations are intimate and intricate. Collaborators like Matmos -- who, along with their own A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure, appear on two of 2001's best works -- contribute appropriately restrained beats crafted from shuffled cards, cracking ice, and the snap-crackle-pop of Rice Krispies; harpist Zeena Parkins' melodic and rhythmic playing adds to the postmodernly angelic air. An album singing the praises of peace and quiet, Vespertine isn't merely lovely; it proves that in Björk's hands, intimacy can be just as compelling as louder emotions. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Electronic - Released November 20, 2012 | One Little Independent

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 9, 2010 | One Little Independent

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Björk in the magazine