Karl Snyder

Apr 3, 2018

4 min read

Why I Love Björk’s Utopia

Some Reflections; A List

Cover art for Björk’s Utopia album

1. In casual conversation, the words I keep using to describe Björk’s newest album, Utopia, are “vast as fuck”.

2. I’ve always been a sucker for the transcendental — the idea that small things are reflections of larger things; that Truth manifests in the world in sneaky, beautiful ways; that when we feel love, or elation, or other feelings that don’t have words for them, we are connecting to something spiritual; that these things are clues to why we are supposed to be alive, and we should follow them all our lives even though we will never fully understand them.

3. Björk is a sucker for that stuff too.

4. Although I respect Björk as much as any good music nerd, I have done so from a safe distance ever since I discovered her in my dad’s friend’s friend’s enormous music collection about a decade ago. If she came up in conversation, there a few things I would — and will continue to — say: “She is so weird you can’t not like her,” “have you seen the amazing YouTube video of her explaining how a TV works? It’s one of my favorite parts of the Internet,” “I love how much she likes Arvo Pärt,” “Most of her albums are too weird for a casual listen, but sometimes I listen to Vespertine”.

5. Utopia is, by far, my favorite thing Björk has ever produced. Since it came out on November 24, I have been trying to figure out why, and, honestly, I still haven’t figured it out. Sometimes you feel intensely attached to art and have no idea why; that’s why people believe in souls and God and stuff. Anyway, Utopia falls into that category for me.

6. The album is about a lot of things, all intensely important and accessible, and, as usual, presented in an intensely inaccessible way that sounds nothing like what an Earthling would make. But for some reason, this time it hits home as intensely as I believe it shouldn’t.

7. I like that it’s vast and wildly different from our planet. It forces you to drop everything else you’re doing and focus in on an alternate universe. In the Utopia universe, songs are accompanied by electronic animal guardians. Mostly birds! [THINK OF MORE EXAMPLES HERE] But there’s a lil baby tiger at one point too, in “Body Memory” — my favorite track if I have to choose (and I don’t) — and when I give into the Björkiness fully, as I sometimes can, I feel like he’s my beloved pet, for whom I show my love by making excuses for his behavior.

8. “Ah, gosh, so sorry! You know, he growls when he feels uncomfortable, but we all do in a way. Oh goodness, no, you didn’t make him uncomfortable, you’re fine, haha. Anyway, he’s been doing a lot better lately. It’s something we’ve been working on.”

9. Maybe the point is that these lil baby animal guardians are part of you; they are messengers from God; they are here to protect you, scare you, and make you feel weird. The more you join and accept her universe, the more you are rewarded by the layers of which it’s composed.

10. (In December, I cried to this album in a bus, and no one noticed.)

11. Or maybe she was just like, “The animal sounds are fun and weird” (unvoiced Icelandic “r”; “d” goes to “t”; gorgeous) and that was it.

12. The lyrics are delivered in the usual Björky way: every syllable stressed, elongated, yelled or whispered. (After listening to a few minutes of this album, I think thoughts like, “Our sweet goddess already recognizes through her crystal Björk ball that this is how people will talk 400 years from now when we are too anxious to use electronics anymore.” Other times, I would be less likely to have a thought like that.)

13. The idea of Björk sending her sweetie some “mp3’s” and “falling in love with a song” makes me feel so cute that I want to hug a baby tiger or a baby cyborg toucan, and I’m sorry but I’m not backing down on that one.

14. She is exploring the idea of love here as a transcendental, generational, spiritual, but intensely biological phenomenon. There is a lot of talk of cells, protecting your children from the mistakes of the past, transactional emotional energy, and “Googling love”. She’s processing some stuff. It’s intensely personal, just as Vulnicura was, but it doesn’t feel too self-indulgent this time for whatever reason — perhaps because she sounds more confident. That’s beautifully human. She wants us to see her whole story.

15. I love all the flute! Everyone loves flute. Even Future loves flute. Future and Björk should do a collab.

16. No, they definitely shouldn’t.

17. Really, Utopia is freeing. I’m so thankful for that. I remember I’ve got to have dinner. I remember I’ve got to spend time with my loved ones.

18. (After dinner, number paragraphs, publish as is.)