There is the type of rain, the misty, airy, delicate rain that pours down so softly that you are genuinely surprised when realizing you are completely drenched. The emotions that are delivered in Björk’s new album, Vulnicura, is that rain. They don’t hit you like a bus; they seep into your clothes, your skin and into your memories without your knowledge. By the time you step back to process the music, the damage has already been done. Vulnicura makes you think of all the sadness you have ever felt, it makes you reflect on those emotions that you have left weighing on your psyche, and it makes you think about your future with a strangely tinted view.
follows Björk’s separation from Matthew Barney, with whom she has a daughter. In a loosely chronological fashion, the 10 songs speak about the different stages of their breakup: the hazy and confusing period before, the moments after and then the recovery. Because of this incredibly personal and recent development in her life, the emotions in every song are raw and untethered. Unlike her previous work in which the ideas in the songs were much more abstract and universal, the songs in Vulnerica are incredibly specific. But, the beautiful specificity of each song makes for an even more relatable album.
After the release of the album, Björk posted on her Facebook page, “…I was worried it would be too self-indulgent but then I felt it might make it even more universal. And hopefully the songs could be a help, a crutch to others and prove how biological this process is: the wound and the healing of the wound. Psychologically and physically. It has a stubborn clock attached to it. There is a way out.”
sound of the album also contains this strange dichotomy of the familiar and foreign. The drum and bass loops, groaning cellos and pitch-warped echoes all rush and drop in unexpected and refreshing ways.
All of this is then escalated by Björk’s vocal delivery as she enunciates certain syllables while letting others escape her. She is able to put a focus on the specific sounds that makes for a more fulfilling experience. All of these components transport the listener to a strange dreamscape of heavy emotions.
It is possible to hear the entire album solely as a melancholy rendition of desperation. But the overall, louder message is one of hope and new beginnings. The album acknowledges the terribly sad experiences that people must face in their lives, but also is a reminder that there is a future that comes from this type of emotional wringer. Vulnicura is a voice that says, yes, this situation is terrible, but there is hope, there is a future and you are not alone.