Björk’s new album is a truly bizarre and wondrous listen

Björk – Fossora (Reykjavik, Iceland)

As a true bastion of unrelenting experimentation and artistry in the face of such an influential career, Björk is as unhinged as ever on her latest LP. Built around harmonies and an almost primal approach to rhythm and writing, Björk makes a truly bizarre and wondrous listen that will either be exactly what you need, or a trip off the deep end you might not be ready for, depending on the listener. “Atopos” sets things off in a cacophonous flail of horns, synth and Björk’s atonal swing in both vocals and overall delivery of the aggression of the song. Regardless of its large arrangements and bouncy nature, “Allow” constantly has a sparse feeling that lets its windy aesthetic cut through you, and give Björk all the room she needs to swirl the mix like a magical sprite. There’s a more direct approach to the orchestration and melodies on “Fungal City,” as Björk loops both the strings and industrial hints into a forceful and visually evocative piece. The most modern twist on all the themes Björk plays with on this album come out at full force on “Fossora” with the rolling r’s, kinetic percussion and frantic wind and brass creating a dance that while violent is nonetheless beautiful for it.  

Kinley – Fairytale Love (Single) (Charlottetown, PEI)

Kinley focuses all their pop sensibilities into a more emotional core to debate matching expectations with standards. The track taps into the brightness and whimsy in both that more literary love and what we simply long for, making for a track brimming with hope, but baked in realistic perspective. Rather than dispelling the sense of romanticism however, Kinley keeps the optimism strong by suggesting that all the angry, toxic or simply mismatched people are just stepping stones to that right person, one who will get about as close that fictionalized vision they’ve had as actually possible. Through it all, the synths and guitar paint this crisp autumnal feeling in the song, a little neon, a little hearth, and the right amount

Gilla Band – Most Normal (Dublin, Ireland)

Touting the fun of bands like The Rapture with a vicious punk focus in their aesthetics, Irish noise outfit Gilla Band are a force of nature. Grumpy and grimy, this album is possibly one of the loudest and most abrasive albums that is somehow also really easy to dance to. “The Gum” starts into an almost ceaseless crash of feedback and wail, but when it finally drops into that electronic boom and drive, there’s such a satisfaction to the release that it grabs you by the shoulder and shakes your core. The soul James Murphy’s most pure punk and nasal-heavy delivery is channeled on “Backwash,” as Gilla Band channels an animalistic distorted echo, until it breaks free and burns down the whole track. It’s fascinating to hear the sunnier tones slow it all down on “Almost Soon” as the band makes the acoustic equivalent of tuning into a beach vacation ad and then scrolling through all the static. There’s a brutal synth-pop feeling in the smoke of “Post Ryan” as even more LCD Soundsystem gets channeled into this piercing but excitingly raw shake of frustration.

Terra Spencer & Ben Caplan – Old News (Windsor/Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Blending the best of both of their East Coast sounds, Ben Caplan and Terra Spencer bring great performances out of each other on this collab. “Mr. M” grooves with a vintage charm, as Spencer chirps creamy harmonies and the organs just pull you out of a funk. Tom Waits meets bar crooner on “Harry,” with Caplan taking you through a journey that tells its tale almost like an old Christmas tune. The descending guitar lines paint a vibrant picture on “Messy” as Spencer takes us through a whole life, and lets the low-end of the guitar bolster this ballad. “Saudade” is a more romantic and wistful track, with Spencer longing for the richest of times with someone, and wrestles with this desire.

Skullcrusher – Quiet the Room (Tarrytown, NY)

Drenched in a sense of pain and lessons learned, Skullcrusher’s music is the kind you can wrap yourself in a blanket and sit in a big comfy chair processing. Lush in the range of tones and depth of the arrangements themselves, this record is soothing but also definitely one that requires a state of mind ready to embrace some of the dark as well. In the richness of these glossy and warm harmonies, “They Quiet the Room” opens the record like waves and breezes passing through, before the shivering string outro hits like sun through a window. The more lively sway to “Whatever Fits Together” has a sense of whimsy and defeat to it all at once, never once taking away from the brilliance of its expanding collage of strings of all sorts, and the ghostly presence of Helen Ballentine’s vocals. There’s a sheer swell of natural hope and joy on “Outside, Playing” as rustic charm, pure happiness and comfort are all captured in this brief instrumental. The strange sense of something lingering is all over “Sticker” as some notes pounce through like a giant, and others linger in the mix as if they are smoke that can never escape.