Björk: Homogenic

Since leaving The Sugarcubes, Björk has never really bothered with redundancy, unpredictably dabbling in accessibly quirky pop ("Army Of Me"), cloyingly cutesy schmaltz ("It's Oh So Quiet"), and an entire album of electronic remixes and re-recordings that border on reinventions (this year's Telegram). On the new Homogenic, Björk stumbles trying to combine those three approaches, often forgetting to create memorable songs in the process. Her boisterous, torchy vocals, for all their volume and force, are somehow buried in electronic blipping, blooping and rumbling, not to mention layers of strings, horns, organs and effects. Björk's voice swoops and coos and gurgles and snarls, the way it always does, but on songs like "5 Years," she never really allows herself to make a statement amid all the clamor. It's not that there aren't viscerally entertaining sounds in here—"Pluto" is a heart-poundingly wicked, electronics-driven stunner—but there isn't much substance to go with the flash. Homogenic is stylish enough, and it's as restlessly creative as you'd expect, but the album rarely gives Björk's songs a chance to assert themselves.

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