Right, well now I’ve finally braved Bjork’s ‘difficult’ back catalogue, it’s time to recall happier times as I go through my 20 favourite Bjork songs. As far as album coverage goes, it’s a fair mix with only Drawing Restraint 9 and Biophilia not represented for obvious reasons (i.e. the were terrible).
Volta was a poop in sheep’s clothing, with a flashy commercial(ish) lead single produced by Timbaland, and a feeling that it wouldn’t be as inaccessible as Drawing Restraint 9 proved to be. It didn’t turn out quite that way, and while it veered into more marketable territory, that displayed more than ever Bjork’s refusal to make anything easy to listen to. But I digress, I think this was a single (though frankly it’s a bit academic if none of the singles make the chart), and one of the few they could have picked. There’s a decent core to this song, about being lost and wondering about your roots. There are brassy bits juxtaposed with thudding beats that put us in mind of the harder sound of Homogenic, which just about pulls this one through.
19. The Modern Things
Ahh it’s always a pleasure to listen to Post. She was offbeat and experimental without being harsh, quirky without being forced. This is a good display of that, a gentle dream about the world’s machines hiding underground for thousands of years rather than being invented. I like the percussion in this, like the rattling of a train. It just has a nice atmosphere, and while it hasn’t got quite the pizazz of Post’s big moments, it’s still a delight.
18. I miss you
Still on Post, we have a dancier affair now, with an striking video by the people who made Ren & Stimpy. The idea of the song is relateable, pining for love that you haven’t encountered yet. So far, so emo. All the layers of this fit well together, the shuddering beat, the awkward accordion backing, the Latin-American beats and jumpy trumpets. The climax really is totally off the scale, and as ever it’s quite fun to hear her totally lose it.
17. Venus as a boy
One of her first singles now, as a delicate little love song. Strange instrumentation, a beautiful gentle tune behind it all. It’s a bit mucky when you listen to the lyrics too closely, but her voice is so lovely on this, very pure notes, and unreliant on gimmicks or reckless risk-taking. Maybe I’m just a simple boy.
16. Possibly maybe
Yet more tracks from Post, which is a testament to how much I love that album. I think some nostalgia clouds my judgement a little bit now, I remember when this came out, and while I wasn’t into it particularly at the time, it does bring me back to my teens. It’s a very stripped-down song, with a dim electronic hook glowing in the backing track. Some charmingly odd lyrics too, “nobody knows what’s going to happen, lottery or car crash, or you join a CULT”. Well QUITE. Maybe that’s more a reflection of her chaotic life than anything.