CD Review: Bjork, Biophilia

Biophilia is the eighth full-length studio album from avant-garde darling Bjork. Ten tracks released with accompanying individual apps for each of the songs turn the music into “a visualization of songs,” Bjork said on CBC Radio’s Q.

The album starts off with “Moon,” which sounds like a classical Victorian lullaby with its harps, Bjork’s voice weaving it all together. But it doesn’t seem to go any further than that. This is followed up by the start-stop rhythm of “Thunderbolt.” It keeps you intrigued but grows tiring by the end.

“Crystalline,” the lead single, showcases Bjork as her fans know her best, as does “Mutual Core,” the best song on the album (hands down), with its back-and-forth of minimal organs to electronic bass-heavy beats that will have anyone who listens pleased. The beautifully minimal “Cosmogony” and the xylophone carried “Virus” hold their own, too. There are nuances of styles from previous releases, but they flutter in and out and tease rather than contribute.

But it’s songs like the underwhelming “Dark Matter” or the haunted circus, organ driving “Hollow” that make the album feel like some of the track were created as a soundtrack to the technology. It appears that the songs came second to using all-the-rage advances to break new ground, rather than having the music at the forefront.

Overall, the album itself is still good, but it’s not great. I think the challenge, too, is the fact that not everyone owns an iPad yet, so there’s no way you can get the whole experience by the album alone. It’s like having the instructional driving manual but not having the car to drive it. Granted, Biophilia may be considered the first app album and is very forward thinking. I can appreciate that, but game changer or not, the music should always come first.

3 1/2 stars out of 5