The first thing that came to my mind when listening to this was that it followed Vulnicura's vibe with a lot of dream pop especially in the synth and the beats used and also with the length of the songs and even the whole LP is her longest I think. I repeat it there but long songs are a great choice for Björk as it allows her to really set her world, however, in this record it sometimes felt a bit long compared to Vulnicura.
Great voice as usual even if she doesn't push a lot on this one and rather sing in a falsetto register. There was a lot of reverb used in her voice on these tracks too, to get with the weird alternative future vibe of this LP.
The flute is really put in the foreground on this one. In songs like 'Utopia' for instance. Playing happy melodies, it's the instrument setting up the true Utopia björk is describing in my opinion, with the help of some strings and imitation of birds or trees...
And yeah the synth is back again after being totally absent from Vulnicura. Playing really calm and pure melodies.
We also have sometimes a good bass at some point, I liked it!
The production is really great, Björk and Arca use a lot the multidirectional sound to make it so it really surrounds the listener, in the instruments and the voices used to make the harmonies. It can get really minimalistic at some point, like in 'The Gate' on which, to her voice counting us the story is only added background harmonies and few ambient and natural effects for almost 2 minutes of the song. The problem is that it can also be a bit boring like in 'Tabula Rasa' which is just straight up boring, 5 minutes of the same exact melodies.
Even the flute can get frustrating. It's kinda the same tone and chords played in the whole album, and as it's not an instrument I like a lot originally, it didn't get me as much as the violin in Vulnicura.
The album is a bit confused and confusing in my opinion, it's harder to get in it than in most of the other Björk's LPs.
For instance, the bird sounds in 'Utopia' is extremely annoying and way too loud it cut me from the song which seems to be really good apart from that, too bad :(
I felt like even if there was a strong vibe in the whole album with the same instruments and the same way to produce songs, it was less the case than her previous works.
There's something a bit indescribable in this LP, but it feels like false nature sounds, like the sound can be raw at some point and feature even samples of natural beings like birds or the wind passing through the branches all that kind of stuff but it feels really fake, like in those cyberpunk simulation. This LP made me think of that by its music, it's cover, its name. There's something wrong in this Utopia, the sounds are sometimes weird and creepy, it makes you feel alone, and the lyrics are not always happy. So yeah her Utopia can sometimes be weird, it's really alternative and not so reassuring at some point lol, but from what I heard and read it's really about the creation of her own Utopia, and in fact the second half of the album is less mechanical and happier and with more transitions and links between songs so it might be that the first half is about constating that she has to work on her own brand new world?
If we take this side of things, in 'Losss' the beat is clearly making me thing of something being created, even manufactured.
So yeah I'm not gonna lie this album didn't work for me and even if it's still good, it's for me her weakest work from what I have listened to until now. This is an ambitious idea but the songs are not that experimental, the lyrics are great but not magnificent, the emotion is there without being as strong as in Vespertine of Biophilia...
Tl;Dr: This is a Björk album. So you can enjoy her beautiful voice and brilliant ideas as well as an excellent production. However the album is way too long compared to what it proposes and it kinda feel weak compared to her previous work. It's not bad tho, like if you give this album to Coldplay it's easily their best work, but it's not as good as the rest of Björk's discography as a whole.
|Arisen My Senses / 90
|Blissing Me / 85
|The Gate / 100
|Utopia / 60
|Body Memory / 87
|Features Creatures / 73
|Courtship / 75
|Losss / 80
|Sue Me / 70
|Tabula Rasa / 55
|Claimstaker / 62
|Paradisia / 70
|Saint / 90
|Future Forever / 82