Published May 31, 2007
Like enthusiastic parents, we’re supposed to egg Björk on. Even if she doesn’t score a goal or win first place at the science fair, we’ve still got to hand it to her just for being, well, Björk. And I acknowledge that her work should stand apart from the conventional musical criticisms and be praised for constantly redefining genres and defying musical linearity. Sure. But that doesn’t make listening to Volta any easier. Much of the album is so instrumentally indulgent and electronically reliant that the ultimate effect is something disjointed, incoherent, and frankly, inaccessible. Maybe the extensive cast (ranging from Timbaland to Lightning Bolt’s Brian Chippendale) is to blame for the lack of focus. Björk certainly hasn’t lost her abilities as a musical visionary (Vertebrae by Vertebrae) or a catchy tunesmith (Declare Independence and Earth Intruders). Still, there is nothing truly engaging about her latest release, and the main effect of Volta is that it has pretty much strolled right by you. The good moments (and there are a few) are just too sparse. Where Volta depends too heavily on instrumentation and the work of contributors, it becomes a little ostentatious. Even for Björk.