CLUAS Album Reviews

Björk 'Volta'

Jul 23

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Monday, July 23, 2007  RssIcon

Bjork 'Volta'

Review Snapshot:
This reviewer's first childhood memory was hearing the Beatles' "I want to hold your hand" and he's been in love with pop music ever sionce then,"Volta", Bjork's sixth album, is the worst album this reviewer has ever heard.

The CLUAS Verdict? 0 out of 10

Full Review:
Very little music actually depresses me – not even the suicide note that is Joy Division’s “Closer”. A couple of tracks in it has “Isolation”, a bit of a stomper, although its subject matters are alienation and despair. I loved The Smiths but, as Noel Gallagher rightly pointed out, many of their actual tunes are foot tappers. Old grumps like Joy Division, Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen, John Martyn, the Floyd, Suede, and Lou Reed have looked on and walked us through the dark side, but these musicians’ portrayal of unhappiness and depression is sometimes so beautiful and evocative that the music becomes something to be cherished and revisited rather than dreaded and avoided.

And yet - I can remember a Wednesday, sometime in June 1981, I was bored as only a twenty year old can be. Someone gave me “Selling England by the Pound” by Genesis. I forced myself through it with the youthful optimism that only a twenty year old can have. Big mistake. This album was truly dreadful, overblown, over arranged, over thought, and overplayed prog rock. “Battle of Epping Forest “ in particular drained me of my will to live. I was utterly downtrodden by the end of it, not because of the music itself, which was longwinded and tireseome, but by the thought that this band of talented musicians had spent so long and their record company had spent so much money putting this product on the streets. No-one had the sense or courage to say thus far and no further shall you go. Think of it too, the record company could have spent the money promoting someone with something new and valid to say. Instead we were left with the musical equivalent of Emperor’s new clothes.

26 years on, I never thought I’d get that miffed, bothered or upset by an album and then I heard “Volta”, Bjork’s latest. Pessimists, as they say, are never disappointed. I saw her performing “Earth Intruders”, “Volta’”s opener, on Jools Holland’s “Later”, with a cast of thousands. It’s Reel 2 Real’s “Move it” reduced to a clumpy tempo with added orchestra, fiddly percussion bits and of course Bjork herself on vocals. It sounded horrendous, and the Beeb subsequently showed her performing it at Glastonbury. Same cast, same sound, same result.

“Earth Intruders”, like the rest of “Volta”, takes several listens for the listener to appreciate how gut wrenchingly awful it is. Her vocals are mannered and formulaic – restrained verses are followed by screeching choruses that blip off the radar and set distant dogs barking. It’s arty, it’s fussy and ultimately it’s a gratingly smug package. Unbelievably it gets worse as the album progresses-or declines. "Wanderlust” is wretchedly drippy, and “pneumonia” and “vertebrae by vertebrae” are as painful as their titles suggest. “Declare independence” is root canal surgery set to music. Antony Hegarty duets with Bjork on the “the dull flame of desire”, which is merely vibratoed highly mannered crap but it’s far better than the rest of the worthless screed played out on “Volta”.  

Bjork has talent that desperately needs to be properly harnessed. Her earlier material was quirky, her melodies and lyrics sounded as if they were recorded on another planet but she was operating within a disciplined framework of good solid arrangements and sparse production With “Volta” however she has managed to produce that rare thing, a timeless album- its base badness won’t date, 50 years down the line it will still sound as contrived, as forced, and ultimately, as hollow as it did the day it was let loose on the world.

“Volta” is the worst album I’ve ever heard. Bar none. If by these words I’ve prevented one person from buying this stinking heap I’ll face my maker a happy man. 

Anthony Morrissey

 To buy a new or (very reasonably priced) 2nd hand copy of this album on Amazon just click here.

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15 comment(s) so far...


Re: Björk 'Volta'

Volta's an awkward, misfiring album that might well be the least well-realised thing Bjork's done but this "worst album I've ever heard! 0/10" stuff is pure hyperbole.. For Innocence, Wanderlust, I See Who You Are, Vertebrae By Vertebrae and Pneumonia it gets a 5/10 from me. Not one for casual fans but if you like her style you'll get some enjoyment out of it at least.

By dermot_trellis on   Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Re: Björk 'Volta'

I thought long and hard about this review – I’d repeat again that I’ve been listening to music since the early sixties, and I mean all types of music. I’ve listened to Volta in different surroundings, locations and moods. I’m absolutely convinced that this album is the worst thing I’ve heard. It’s slack, it’s unfocussed, it’s undisciplined, it’s smug, it’s grating.

I’ve never had an agenda with Bjork’s music. She’s gifted, she’s genuinely kooky but as I stressed in the review, the vocal and lyrical pyrotechnics operate best against a proper framework. She needs to be reined in but that did not happen here.

I’d stand by every word here.

By Anthony Morrissey on   Thursday, July 19, 2007

Re: Björk 'Volta'

I thought it was a decent album, actually - I see what you mean about her sounding smug and self-satisfied, but it's more listenable than her previous album.

By aidan on   Thursday, July 19, 2007

Re: Björk 'Volta'

If you like guitar based groups/bands you will not like Bjork. As a Bjork fan from a long way back, like her I have got tired of guitar based pop music. Having said that bands like Queen, Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper to name but a few made good music but not pop music. If Mr Morrisey likes the Beatles he will not like Bjork ever. I do not own one Beatles record but I do appreciate some of the Lennon/McCartney compositions. Noel Gallagher is just a part of the guitar sound, you hear one group, you'veheard them all. By the way Mr Morrisey in 1981 I was a lot older than 20. How about a bit of D&B or Hip Hop to liven up brekfast time.

By Gerry on   Thursday, July 19, 2007

Re: Björk 'Volta'

Are you deaf?????...Yes.....not only deaf, crazy too....My GOSH!!!! Volta is 8 to 10....

By Fabian Precetti on   Thursday, July 19, 2007

Re: Björk 'Volta'

Gerry:"If Mr Morrisey likes the Beatles he will not like Bjork ever."

Don't be silly.

Anthony Morrissey:"its base badness won’t date, 50 years down the line it will still sound as contrived, as forced, and ultimately, as hollow as it did the day it was let loose on the world."

Thank you for letting us know how people will react to music in FIFTY years time. Your insight it beyond any mere album reviewer.

And your album review was ridiculously over the top, very entertaining and obviously shouldn't be taken seriously.

By Peejay on   Thursday, July 19, 2007

Re: Björk 'Volta'

Mr. Morrissey doesn't know what he is talking about! There's nothing depressing about this album and it's not fair to compare "Volta" to such suicidal 80's bands. In fact, there are some downright beautifully romantic meolodies (point in fact "Dull Flame of Desire" and "I See Who You Are") and upbeat tunes ("Innocence", "Wanderlust") not to mention that "Declare Independence" really invokes an emotion (good or bad). Admittedly Bjork has attempted something that is really out of the ordinary for her, to make this more of a "pop" album, and in that regard it was not a success (as dermot_trellis states "not one for casual fans"). But the more one listens to "Volta" the more one begins to understand the subtlies and layers that are not immediately apparent upon first listen. Yeh, maybe it does take a few listens, but which of her albums doesn't require quite a few listens to really get into her groove?
Anyway, I have immensely enjoyed this album and would definitely recommend it to people (in fact I have!).

By HintOfKizzle on   Saturday, July 21, 2007

Re: Björk 'Volta'

Mr. Morrissey doesn't know what he is talking about! There's nothing depressing about this album and it's not fair to compare "Volta" to such suicidal 80's bands. In fact, there are some downright beautifully romantic meolodies (point in fact "Dull Flame of Desire" and "I See Who You Are") and upbeat tunes ("Innocence", "Wanderlust") not to mention that "Declare Independence" really invokes an emotion (good or bad). Admittedly Bjork has attempted something that is really out of the ordinary for her, to make this more of a "pop" album, and in that regard it was not a success (as dermot_trellis states "not one for casual fans"). But the more one listens to "Volta" the more one begins to understand the subtlies and layers that are not immediately apparent upon first listen. Yeh, maybe it does take a few listens, but which of her albums doesn't require quite a few listens to really get into her groove?
Anyway, I have immensely enjoyed this album and would definitely recommend it to people (in fact I have!).

By HintOfKizzle on   Sunday, July 22, 2007

Re: Björk 'Volta'

0/10 - wtf?

By UnaRocks on   Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Re: Björk 'Volta'

I hate Bjork too and, whilst Tony didn't prevent me from spending cash on a stinking heap I wasn't going to buy anyway, its nice to know that someone else sees her for screeching cat in the washing machine that she so obviously is.
Fight the power

By Rev Jules on   Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Re: Björk 'Volta'

Yeah, so it's not the greatest. It's still quite decent, and you giving it 0 is just ridiculous. At the very least I'd give it from 4-6.

By Aran on   Thursday, September 27, 2007
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Re: Björk 'Volta'

I guess you need time to contemplate before reviewing such an album...if not,stick to the oldies if you can't handle avant-garde music that's free of cliche....I agree it's not the best...but the worst?! Can't you save that for the likes of Sean Kingston or much better, Akon?

By dennou-san on   Sunday, October 19, 2008
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Re: Björk 'Volta'

And if you like your music to be in a good framework, then most probably "formulaic" should appeal to you as you described Bjork's voice with...

By dennou-san on   Sunday, October 19, 2008
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Re: Björk 'Volta'

This review is some extreme bullshit.

By Michael on   Thursday, December 18, 2008
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Re: Björk 'Volta'

I never consider reviews that have the word "I" in them. I don't care about what you think about Genesis in 1981, twat.

By Damien Ferland on   Saturday, April 25, 2009

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