The roots of Bjork
Twenty years on, Bjork’s debut album still sounds mighty
There are some albums which define a summer. One listen to Bjork’s “Debut” and it’s the summer of 1993 all over again. Back then, that album seemed to be on repeat in every club, bar, café and shop.
Twenty years on and that album still sounds quite special. Nowadays, we see Bjork as an artist happy to follow her own star and to hell with the consequences. Back then, though, Bjork was an unknown quantity, a member of the Sugarcubes, an act who’d always been more underground than mainstream.
“Debut” changed all that. It was a freewheeling, eclectic, joyous sound, an album full of imagination and individuality. Bjork took everything which was influencing her at that time –London clublife, pop’s new breadths and depths, love, the excitement of starting something new, fashion – and worked with producer Nellee Hooper to put it all into effect.
Naturally, the world took notice. Audiences are always game for something different and Bjork’s “Debut” was perfectly pitched for that time. Songs like “Venus As A Boy” and “Human Behaviour” were feverish and exciting, but it was the whole-hearted, good times scream of “Big Time Sensuality” which really set the mood. “Debut” was about coming out of the shadows and standing tall.
Since “Debut”, Bjork has kept twisting and turning, always willing to do something different or go somewhere else rather than follow the straight and narrow. There have been missteps: for all those glorious glittering prizes like “Vespertine” or Medúlla”, you’ve an uninspiring, limpid “Biophilia” to contend with.
That, though, is Bjork’s prerogative and repeating yourself is not an option. It’s unlikely that Bjork herself will make much of the anniversary – no “Debut” 20 Years On tours or shows – but audiences should take some time to revel in the majesty of that album. Some things never grow old.