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Saturday, September 18, 2004
Regarding Medulla: An Open Letter to Bjork
Dear Ms. Gudmundsdottir,
What happened here? Has it really been seven years since Homogenic?
My, what a difference 84 months make. Since 1997 you've starred in a crazy Danish musical, bopped around the Oscars in a dead swan dress, performed at the Olympics, sang a duet with Thom Yorke and recorded three albums...which is why I'm writing to you this afternoon.
Vespertine was OK. Fine, whatever, you had to work a little "serious" creative energy out, track down an Greenland choir and fill 45-minutes of air with wistful, Enya-inspired daydreaming. With that out of the way, your next album should have been something at least a little more upbeat. Instead, you've bestowed Medulla, which is more of the same sans musical instruments.
That's not to say there is some good material here. "Oceania" and "Desired Constellation" have a certain appeal, in an Annie Lennox sort of way. "Where is the Line?" and "Triumph of a Heart," with its kitty-cat boom box backbeat, are stripped-down throwbacks to the good ol' days of Post. However, even with the later two, the lyrics are banal and uninspired. Consider the chorus for another track, "Who Is It?":
Who is it? Who is it?
Who is it - that never lets you down?
Who is it - that gave you back your crown?
Congratulations, you've recorded a track that lyrically and even musically is tailor-made for adult contemporary radio. Say it isn't so, Bjork. Sure, you're getting older but you still a year or two shy of forty, when most respectable pop acts (U2, ahem) start toning things down so they can sell their music to car commercials. The reviews of Medulla have called it "daring" and "challenging" but, if you over look all the cantankerous vocal arrangements and the track where you and a backup vocalists have an orgasm for two minutes, it's not much different from the KD Lang's latest offering.
What little criticism of the album I've seen focuses on Medulla's eccentricities. If anything, it isn't weird enough. The lyrics are bland and the music itself is barebones fluff with random, peculiar samples dropped in here and there. Where's the thrasing techno beats and electric violins? The "irritating noises of dinosaurs"? The accompanying videos where you turn into a cartoon character, blow up an art museum or find yourself wrapped in a nipple cocoon? How about another Thai airport smackdowns? Maybe your "Hyperballad" days are long gone but I'd like to think you have at least one more crazy dance album in you.
Don't calm down, Bjork. Beck did that a few years back and he's been boring the hell out of everyone ever since.