Björk’s ninth studio album, “Utopia,” is an impressively produced, yet weightless collection.
Once again, Björk collaborates with Venezuelan producer Arca, whose lush synths bring out the singer's newfound paradise of self-realization, female strength and motherly love. Leading up the release, she called this her “Tinder” album, a display of how she has again found love and happiness. The result is stylistically cohesive with even-handed production, punctuated with bird sounds — a nod to her new "light as air" vision.
However, compositionally speaking, "Utopia" is a simple endeavor for an artist known for such dense arrangements and unconventional material.
While “Utopia” solidifies the notion that Björk will never again be a dance/pop princess, it won't take two weeks to understand the album's imprint. The fluttering rhythms of the title track and “Courtship,” and the pulsating, crunchier sounds of “Sue Me” allow abstract, meandering melodies to float. Björk also gives us another nearly 10-minute opus in “Body Memory,” but the track never feels as long as advertised.
The only fireworks moment is toward the end of “Loss,” when an industrial assault slowly takes over, reminding us that Björk will forever be a fiery electronic queen.
Incidentally, this simplicity is also the album’s weakness. While quality melodies are rooted in the depths of Björk's classical training, they are repetitive and feel underdeveloped and unfinished. At times, "Utopia" sounds as if Björk was rushing to meet a release date.
“Utopia” probably will sit somewhere in the middle of Björk's prolific back catalog. Its reception will depend on whether listeners prefer the complicated, darker version of Björk, or the airy lack of substance found here.