For over the past two decades, Björk has delivered a wide range of obscure and needless to say, original gems of musical diversity. Vulnicura is no different, but we do see and hear her at a cross-roads of life that many people write about, but not to this extent: a break-up. The main focus is about the progression of the break-up with American visual artist Matthew Barney, from hoping that he will still love her (“Lionsong”) to the inevitable end (“Notget”).
The overall instrumentation of the record is very similar to earlier albums by Björk, such as Homogenic and Vespertine, with the use of odd industrial beats, heavy string orchestration by Björk herself and echoing vocals. With that, the subject matter is very straight-forward, which is a new concept for her, compared to her 2011 release Biophilia, which had a planetary and astronomical subject matter.
One of the major tracks, “Lionsong” is probably the most hopeful, with Björk singing
Maybe he will come out of this loving me
Maybe he won’t
I’m not taming no animal
Maybe he will come out of this
The swelling of the music gives the listener a sense of tension and a bit of forced happiness, knowing that the next few songs will show the false hope in this composition.
For the first time, Björk actually has a duet on one of her records; usually she will be the guest. The song “Atom Dance” is an upbeat track with long-time friend Antony Hegarty, from Antony and the Johnsons, on guest vocals. While singing “No one is a lover alone, Most hearts fear their own home” Antony takes on a vocal enunciation very similar to Björk.
This album definitely shows Björk’s writing qualities with composition, where she wrote all the string arrangements for the album. Definitely worth buying.
If you have a chance to go to New York City in the next few months, go to MoMA because there is an archival exhibit of all of Björk’s music and art. If you can’t, there is also a book coming out later this month cataloging every item in the exhibit.