Lose Yourself 

Björk is a Minty Salve

The fundamental element of Björk: when she gets an emotion, she leaps into it, breathlessly, without fear. She lets herself burn raw, living her life as completely as possible. But she also lets herself dream--about snow, lights, or swans. Björk is complicated and not naive; she simply chooses her innocence. Best of all, her hope makes her mythos and dreams seem real and attainable. For instance, on her latest record, Vespertine, she sings: "If you wake up/and your day feels broken/ just lean into the crack/and it will tremble ever so nicely/notice how it sparkles down there." She sings so wide-eyed and desperately, it seems we should take that sentence literally--like there are really sparkles down there.

Vespertine is less like a record and more like a world, a place to escape to when your skin is burning from the travails of life. There are chasms filled with boys' choirs, streams of orchestras, beats that jut down and jag like stalactites. Björk sings in a soprano so breathily, it sounds like she's forming ice crystals on her eyelashes. She sounds like she's willing to cradle you, if you need it.

There is a part on "Pagan Poetry," where Björk sings, a cappella and with the echo of a cavern, "I love him, I love him, I love him" over and over. It will mangle you. Her voice possesses such an inexplicable beauty, her vehemence so stripped and natural, you will be blinded at the sound of it. You think you've never heard anything so beautiful. But immediately afterwards, "Frosti," an instrumental song Björk wrote for music boxes, segues into "Aurora," a glittering aria that begs a goddess to end her suffering. Breathy choirs, harps, and songs about snow--Vespertine's dramatic beauty increases with each track, and it is nearly suffocating. But, like the lungs of Andean natives expand with higher altitudes, Björk is here to acclimate you to the beauty of her music. She wants you to breathe, to live in such a wonderful place with her. Her lyrics make it seem like it might be possible.

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