Aside from her unmatched ability to constantly and successfully reinvent herself, one of Björk’s greatest qualities is her deft, poignant interrogations on the complex ties between humanity and nature.
On her previous album, 2017’s lovely Utopia, the Icelandic experimental pop singer envisioned a world beyond ours, contrasting ethereal imagery and feather-light production with her growing concerns about the environment and her lingering grief around her divorce.
Fossora — the followup to Utopia and her 10th overall record, out Friday (September 30th) — finds Björk coming back down to Earth, surveying the decay of our natural world and meditating on its debilitating effect on our own relationships. We don’t take care of our planet, Björk seems to suggest, because we fail to take care of ourselves and each other.
No more is this endless cycle of destruction apparent than on Fossora’s first single and metallic opener, “Atopos.” Against dissonant clarinet and clanging drums, Björk shouts and snarls about our culture’s inability to connect due to our differences. Her steadfast optimism that we will eventually overcome the emotional and social divides that keep us apart pulsates over a cacophony of percussion and woodwind, crescendoing into a chaotic finale that’s as representative of our current societal state as it is off-putting to listen to.
But for those caught off guard or dismayed by the sonic and emotional heavy-handedness of “Atopos,” worry not. Fossora is filled with Björk’s reliably lush, sensual instrumentation and poetic lyricism, at times playing like a thematic and musical companion to its predecessor. Where Utopia earnestly looked toward a better and brighter future, Fossora embraces and even sometimes revels in the flawed and fleeting beauty of the present.