My final 1993 selection comes from an artist I’ve tried to like without much success. Bjork last made a Decades appearance with her 2001 album Vespertine, an avant-garde sonic experiment that did nothing for me.
Back in 1993, Bjork released her debut album, called (appropriately enough) Debut. This was her first solo effort following a stint with the band The Sugarcubes. The band’s music was more conventional than her muse, prompting her to branch off on her own.
I wrote last week about how few women cracked my top ten albums of 2001 (few as in one, Lucinda Williams). Is that because I wasn’t as open to female artists back then or was it not a great year for women in music?
Probably more the former than the latter, but I will submit that the most acclaimed release by a woman that year was Björk’s Vespertine, and I’ve heard enough of it to know that it definitely wouldn’t have won me over then, and it sure isn’t going to win me over now either.
So my goal this week was to single out some artists I’ve heard about but never really heard. I went with two bona fide legends (Tom Waits and Patti Smith), two lesser-known but well-regarded 70s bands (Buzzoccks and Faces) and one contemporary artist who enjoys great critical acclaim (Bjork).
Overall, my takeaway is that I wasn’t missing much. I’m most intrigued by Tom Waits, though his voice remains a stumbling block, and I like the idea of Patti Smith even if her song didn’t completely sell me. Faces seems like a generic 70s rock band. Buzzcocks wrote a great song but their style isn’t up my alley. And Bjork is intriguing but too much of an art-school show-off to really grab me.
My knowledge of Bjork pretty much boils down to weird squeaky voice, freaky videos, critically-acclaimed performance in depressing musical by Lars Von Trier and wearing a dead goose to the Oscars.
I know her albums are beloved by music snobs, and as something of a music snob myself I should probably pay her more attention. But, though I’ve never really listened to her songs, I feel like I know what they’re like… and what I think I know they’re like is something I don’t particularly care for. Very dramatic but very sparse, not particularly melodic and not particularly fun.