Debut (Elektra)

By Kory Wilcoxson

Someone needs to tell Bjork that since she has it she might as well flaunt it a little more.

After listening to her aptly titled first solo album, I have to wonder why she split with her Icelandic mates, The Sugarcubes. They had a good thing going, although things had settled down from their fiery debut in the late '80s.

It was obvious Bjork could do better things without the constraints of the Sugarcubes, which de-evolved into a standard Euro dance band. But this sure isn't it.

There's going to be a lot of expectations placed on this album and there's sure to be a lot of disappointed fans. It's as if Bjork was given so much musical freedom she's not sure what to do with it.

Bjork's total package is her oh-so-sweet voice. Her flexibility is amazing and she can sound completely innocuous and totally sensual in the same note.

And we get a glimpse of that on Debut, especially in the first two songs, "Human Behaviour" and "Crying." Both have strong backing beats that let her voice shine and believe me, she can do things to make you tingle.

But that doesn't happen enough. Many of the remaining songs are exactly what she left behind strict, definitive dance tracks. Her ethereal vocals are lost in the technology of "One Day" and "Violently Happy." She lollygags her way through "Like Someone In Love" a slow, jazzy number that would have sounded better and more appropriate coming from Harry Connick Jr. Bjork sounds as disinterested as the listener most surely is.

Nowhere to be found is the type of song on which Bjork should be flailing away good ol' down-and-dirty rock and roll. Did you check out the 'Cubes version of Sailcat's "Motorcycle Mama" on Elektra's 40th Anniversary compilation, Rubaiyat? That totally jammed and Bjork was obviously having fun and sounded better than humanly possible.

But the stuff on Debut is just too darn artsy and Bjork sounds as if she's laboring. Producer Nellee Hooper can probably be blamed for that. Instead of focusing Bjork's talent, Hooper lets her wander too much and Bjork never seems to want to give the listener what they came for.

Debut is sedating when it should have been intoxicating. That's good if you're trying to go to sleep, but not so good if you want to be rocked or just rolled.

Bjork is like a good actor in a bad movie. She does what she can, but she just isn't given much to work with.