Brutal, harsh, devastating: the ‘Vulnicura’ album is a breakup album quite unlike any other. The sheer force of the emotive punches she delivers upon herself caused Björk to falter during the live performances, often breaking away from the lyrics and turning away from the audience.
In an album of such emotive content, the songs are special indeed. These are sessions in therapy and catharsis, among which “Stonemilker” is my stand-out. Singing of certainty and uncertainty in broken English, honesty and heartache burns through. Accompanied by a staggering 360° video (which you can move with your fingers across the screen to follow her around if you wish, or you can stay put and watch the Icelandic beach for five minutes), “Stonemilker” includes of Björk’s strongest abilities: the soaring strings with their underlying brittleness, the understated control of her vocals, the unexpected imagery in the lyrics. (“All that matters is/Who is open chested/And who has coagulated”).
In difficult personal circumstances, one of her strongest ever ballads.
Back in 2013 I had an idea. You can see the Index for that idea here. Very pop-orientated. Very mainstream. I have pop sensibility and like a chorus strong enough to use as ballast, but really, I’m surprised by my choices coming across as more Radio 2 than 6Music. I would not choose the same list, nor put it in the same order now.
One year later is my 2014 Index . It is certainly less mainstream, maybe not organised quite how I would if doing it again (opening with Katy B, now there’s a misunderstanding about drawing in readers).
This year has seen my Spotify, SoundCloud, and ‘tucked in the back of the brain’ longlists growing by the week. Soon I will confirm the results of all that here – and as ever, the chosen 24 songs are presented in no particular order. In so many ways, this ain’t a chart.