“Don’t remove my pain / It is my chance to heal.” Delivered in a wounded cry of desperation, this lyric—from standout track “Notget”—is emblematic of Björk’s profoundly vulnerable ninth studio album. Given sonic texture by her lush string arrangements and the skittering beats of co-producer Arca, Vulnicura was written in response to the dissolution of Björk’s longtime relationship with artist Matthew Barney. Following the cosmically conceptual Biophilia (2011), it’s disarming yet reassuring to hear the Icelandic icon’s stratospheric voice wailing bluntly about recognizable human emotions. In the vibrant album closer “Quicksand,” she sings of finding new life through heartache: “The steam from this pit / Will form a cloud / For her to live on.”

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