Bjork's newest project feels more like a family jamboree mixtape than a standard album release. The music feels less deliberate, and we hear a few more guests than we typically do. As a result, Fossora is far less cohesive, the themes are a bit muddier, and the music feels less urgent than her previous output. While I could see this as detrimental to the album's quality, I still think Bjork manages to create an engaging project with plenty to gush over.
If there is a connective thread throughout the songs, I guess it would be the theme of time or temporality more generally. The songs play with tempo, the lyrics look for hope in the future (or lack of future), and Bjork provides some strange dance beats that are at least groove-inducing. While I do wish the theme was sutured together with more cohesive musical elements (I want MORE bass clarinet!), I think there is enough thematic cohesion to keep the album somewhat tied together. If I have any critique, it is that the esoteric quality of some of the songs mitigates the themes of intimacy and connection the album explores. This album will not win over her more pop-orientation fans, nor does it seem to care about that. While I think that is fine, some of the songs don't really resolve. I think Ovule sounds beautiful, but it does not give me the full potential the song could bring. Sorrowful Soil sounds a bit like a Holly Herndon song, but it could have more weight or melodic currency to take it to the next level. Some ideas seem like they could have been massaged into more coherent shapes, making the album a little less obtuse and a little more physical.
However, when Bjork hits home, she really knocks it out of the park. The title track is hands down one of her best tracks ever. Bombastic and indulgent but still decided catchy and fun, Fossora is the dream Bjork track. It is like a pure adrenaline shot to the heart, and you see the themes in the lyrics parallel the sonic themes. The closing track is also gorgeous and is such an excellent complement to the vitality of the previous track. These two songs are so unique, so perfectly curated and engaging that it makes the rest of the album not feel as realized. I like the whole album but have mostly repeatedly cried to the last two songs. The power of these two songs really demonstrates Bjork as a force of emotion, A tornado of feels. I also think the Victimhood to Fungal City suite is pretty incredible; it is the first four songs I do not like nearly as much as the final 9. That being said, Bjork's most mediocre work is still more interesting and exciting than what most people can even dream of.
I think what I like most about Fossora is the wit and joy pulsing throughout it. There are so many funny parts of this album -- the way Bjork says 'Ridiculous' on Fungal City, The insanity of Fossora's last minute, the word 'crust,' there are so many moments where you can feel Bjork's playfulness. After two pretty thematically heavy albums, it is nice to hear Bjork having so much fun. So while I do hope we get one more masterpiece, I am pretty pleased with this product and will be jamming to these mushroom beats for the near future.