## 1-10 - Homogenic, 1997, Elektra (5*)
By the late '90s, Bjork's playful, unique worldview and singular voice became as confining as they were defining. With its surprising starkness and darkness, 1997's Homogenic shatters her "Icelandic pixie" image. Possibly inspired by her failed relationship with drum'n'bass kingpin Goldie, Bjork sheds her more precious aspects, displaying more emotional depth than even her best previous work indicated. Her collaborators - LFO's Mark Bell, Mark "Spike" Stent, and Post contributor Howie B. - help make this album not only her most emotionally brave work, but her most sonically adventurous as well. A seamless fusion of chilly strings (courtesy of the Icelandic String Octet), stuttering, abstract beats, and unique touches like accordion and glass harmonica, Homogenic alternates between dark, uncompromising songs such as the icy opener "Hunter" and more soothing fare like the gently percolating "All Neon Like." The noisy, four-on-the-floor catharsis of "Pluto" and the raw vocals and abstract beats of "5 Years" and "Immature" reveal surprising amounts of anger, pain and strength in the face of heartache. "I dare you to take me on," Bjork challenges her lover in "5 Years," and wonders on "Immature," "How could I be so immature/To think he would replace/The missing elements in me?" "Bachelorette," a sweeping, brooding cousin to Post's "Isobel," is possibly Homogenic's saddest, most beautiful moment, giving filmic grandeur to a stormy relationship. Bjork lets a little hope shine through on "Joga," a moving song dedicated to her homeland and her best friend, and the reassuring finale "All Is Full of Love." "Alarm Call"'s uplifting dance-pop seems out of place with the rest of the album but, as its title implies, Homogenic is her most holistic work. While it might not represent every side of Bjork's music, Homogenic displays some of her most impressive heights.
- Heather Phares (All Music Guide)
## 11 - 17 - Selmasongs - 2000, Universal INTernational (3*)
Selmasongs: Music From the Motion Picture Soundtrack Dancer in the Dark is, and is not, a Bjцrk album. While it's filled with rampant creativity, startling emotional leaps, and breathtaking vocals and arrangements, it isn't as playful as her other albums, even 1997's relatively dark Homogenic. Instead, it presents Bjцrk as Selma, her character from Lars VonTrier's Dancer in the Dark: a Czech factory worker who is going blind but finds hope and refuge in the musicals she watches at the cinema. (VonTrier wanted to work with Bjцrk after seeing Spike Jonze's musical-inspired video for "It's Oh So Quiet.") She acts through the music she composed, performed, and produced with conductor/arranger Vincent Mendoza and her longtime collaborators Mark "Spike" Stent and Mark Bell. Selma's unsinkable optimism and tragic end are telegraphed through songs like the irrepressible, cartoonish "Cvalda" to the sad, starry lullaby "Scatterheart." Selmasongs' best tracks are poignant, inventive expressions of Bjцrk's talent and Selma's daydreams and suffering. "In the Musicals" shows how easy it is for Selma to slip into one of her Technicolor reveries: "There is always someone to catch me," Bjцrk sighs as clouds of strings, harps, and xylophones rise up to meet her. "New World" reprises the simultaneously hopeful and ominous melody of "Overture," adding striking vocals and shuffling, industrial beats that reflect Selma's life in the factory as well as Bjцrk's distinctive style. Selmasongs also succeeds as a soundtrack, sketching in details of Selma's story. "I've Seen It All," a duet with Thom Yorke, captures her stunted romance with a co-worker, while the tense "107 Steps" takes the listener to her journey's end. Intimate and theatrical, innovative and tied to tradition, Selmasongs paints a portrait of a woman losing her sight, but it maintains Bjцrk's unique vision.
- Heather Phares (All Music Guide)