Artists who break from their bands and release solo albums usually have a negative track record. Even if their first solo album may be all right, they usually leave a path of underwhelming releases. Look at David Lee Roth, Paul McCartney, Richard Ashcroft and Pras from the Fugees. Still, there are some voices who naturally grow out of the confines of the band they joined when they first entered the music world, such as the case of Bjork.
Before opting for a solo career, Bjork was a favorite
among music geeks for her work with cult faves The Sugarcubes.
However, tensions drove the band to dissolve in 1992 and Bjork
started working with Nellee Hooper, who went on to produce albums
from Massive Attack and Madonna. It should be said that even though
Bjork's album is titled
Debut, technically, this is not Bjork's 'debut' album. That album came in 1977 (when Bjork was 11) and featured covers of children's tunes, sung in her native Icelandic language. But for the sake of Bjork's post-Sugarcubes career, let's assume that Debut was called Debut for a reason: it was to introduce (or reintroduce) Bjork to the world.
Debut had to meet the challenge of defining Bjork as someone other than "Sugarcubes singer." More abstractly, Debut also had a challenge in providing some much-needed humanity in the perceived sterile environment of dance and electronica, but she wasted no time in injecting humanity into the dance/electronica songs on Debut.
Debut also established Bjork as a visual artist. The video for "Human Behavior" featured a gigantic stuffed bear chasing Bjork in a world that looked like it was lifted from a six-year-old's nightmare. The song wasn't too remarkable; however, the video helped lodge the song into people's heads. With that song attracting some attention, listeners were able to warm up to the orchestral softness of "Like Someone In Love" and "One Day." They also were treated to the insanely addictive "Big Time Sensuality" and "Violently Happy" (one of the best song titles of all time).
The final accomplishment of Debut was its indirect marring of Rolling Stone's credibility as a reliable resource for album reviews. They made some goofs before -- giving both Nirvana's Nevermind and Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation a ho-hum three-star review when they first came out, only to eat their words years later. But they gave Debut a ghastly one-and-a-half star review on their first review of the album. Critics are free to change their mind (God knows I've had my share of about-faces), but it remains one of Rolling Stone's most embarrassing moments.
Debut ensured that Bjork would have a career that would far outlast The Sugarcubes. In addition, the album was the first of three flat-out classic releases from Bjork. Perhaps the most important accomplishment of Debut was its brought a world of imagination into the world of electronica. The human heart and the hard drive no longer seemed incompatible.
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