It’s entirely possible you don’t check Stereogum as often as we do, so drag your mouse to this link and click to download our tribute to Björk’s Post. It’s essentially a list of our favorite bands right now — Liars, Dirty Projectors, No Age, High Places, Atlas Sound, El Guincho, Final Fantasy & Ed Droste, Evangelicals, Xiu Xiu, Pattern Is Movement, Bell, White Hinterland — and it’s free. We’ll abstain from telling you how we think it turned out because that would be unseemly. But we’ve been noticing some good feedback in the comments, and some interesting mentions around the web (thanks for your mentions, everybody). None of said reviews are better than this one from LiveJournaler Richaod, though, so we’re reprinting the whole thing.

Richaod Presents… I Miss Björk – A Review of Stereogum’s Tribute to Post

I really wanted to like this cover album. I really did. And even though it fails miserably, I can probably find more redeeming qualities than most in the songs by Liars, Bell and Final Fantasy. I’ve yet to hear the previous tributes to OK Computer (I want a download, not a stream!) and Automatic for the People, so I can’t make comparisons to those.

Post is the only Björk album I physically own, and admittedly the only one I’ve listened to at length, though I’m not incredibly familiar with it. I think I quite like Björk where I should love her. The more you love Björk’s idiosyncrasies, the more you’ll likely hate these covers.

I’ve tried to be descriptive here, so I can say “I told you so” when you download the album so you can complain about me being discouraging.

Next: the track-by-track analysis…

1. Liars – Army Of Me
The first song is generally not a good place to alienate your listeners by violently beating them into submission, especially indies with a low tolerance for sludge metal. Turns the original bassline from completely badass into a cacophonous beast, making its melody somewhat irrelevant whilst halving the song’s tempo in the process. Not a bad idea, but the processed vocals and constantly abrasive atmosphere make it a difficult, even physically painful listen. Unfortunately, this is one of the stand-out (though not necessarily better) tracks here. A Black Sabbath-like version probably could’ve slowed the song without butchering it.

2. Dirty Projectors – Hyper-ballad
Puts a frivolous indie backing behind the song in the treble, stripping almost any emotion from it. What’s worse is that the male vocalist sounds like a total twee pussy, and his tendency to vibrato EVERYTHING isn’t helped by the disorienting delay between his singing in the left and right channels. And he actually vocalizes in the last chorus – something best left to your Mariah Careys and Celine Dions; at least they have technical ability. The song is about Björk throwing her possessions off a steep cliff, leaving them to the jagged rocks below… and the original melodramatic music is incredibly fitting. This sounds like a kid dropping his marbles off the top of a small incline. Whilst the other songs are unremarkable, you can make out enough of the original in this for it to actually be offensive. Piss-weak.

3. High Places – The Modern Things
I always thought Björk was wailing “Chairman Mao!!” in the Icelandic part. High Places might have been similarly confounded with what to do with the rest of the song. The vocals here echo and delay, with stuttered string samples and electronic beats, sounding more like a half-baked idea than the final cut. This is the first track to really reflect the overall subdued, pseudo-electronic feel of the rest of the album.

4. Bell – It’s Oh So Quiet
Her voice isn’t bad at all, and the verses have a likeable colourful electronic piano self-described as having a “Mozart”-type quality. Though she sings powerfully in the chorus, it’s let down by the original orchestra’s replacement by offbeat drums and synths. It flattens the dynamic contrast and power of the song rather than sounding like a successful reinterpretation.

5. Pattern Is Movement – Enjoy
Reverbed, multitracked vocals over a dissonant, almost carnivalesque backing. Kind of interesting; still not listenable.

6. Evangelicals – You’ve Been Flirting Again
Vaguely tribal drums, vaguely swirling backing, vaguely intelligible lyrics. But clearly insignificant.

7. Xiu Xiu – Isobel
This seems to aim specifically for an avant-garde sound, pushing Björk into weirder, irrelevant tangents. Where Björk managed both individuality and solid songwriting, the overinflected vocals and occasional dissonant violin (replacing the soaring strings of the original) here just sound empty.

8. Final Fantasy & Ed Droste – Possibly Maybe
The wind/string instrument trills at the beginning sound very promising, but the song is more atmospheric than lush. Plodding programmed drums are introduced with the first chorus, and the strings’ harmonies expand, but as often as not run off in wild, chromatic processed directions. While its feel is in the same vein as the last few, it’s a slight improvement (though it doesn’t need double-tracked vocals).

9. White Hinterland – I Miss You
The one live song of hers I’ve heard presented her as a typically beautiful folkie singer-songwriter – probably the wrong impression. Her vocals here sound distant, as if they’ve been recorded through a phone. Apparently her drummer “lost his kit”, so he played on pots and pans instead… maybe more appropriate for a Björk song than a full drum kit. Slightly dissonant backing keyboards, check. Continues the heads-down atmosphere.

10. El Guincho – Cover Me
Uhh. Ironically for the song title, he seems to have done nothing of the sort. It sounds as if he’s sampled his original cover of the song, copied and pasted totally unintelligible snippets, panned and processed them in sequence to give the illusion of change, and finally thrown a random dance beat behind it, because everyone knows Björk likes electronic drums. It’s not a cover, it’s not a reinterpretation, it’s just grating and irrelevant.

11. Atlas Sound – Headphones
Nice to finally hear an acoustic guitar, but it’s still buried behind vaguely electronic sounds and a distant, unintelligble vocal. But the original is equally distant, so intangible that I’ve never quite grasped it… so I can’t really say if the cover’s bad.

12. No Age – It’s Oh So Quiet (Alternate Take)
They actually play the verse clarinet melody on guitar! That’s the one good part. But the rest is not so much grunge/depressed alternative rock as a pastiche – like South Park’s take on Marilyn Manson. He transforms Chef’s original porno-funk Stinky Britches into a tuneless dirge. You know the sound – detuned, fuzzy power chords and a slurred, slacker vocal delivery containing no irony or self-awareness whatsoever.

I must admit, the worst tribute albums all have one redeeming quality – they make you appreciate the original artists more. If you disliked Björk’s singing before this, you won’t now.
Generally, I prefer covers that are reworkings, even unsuccessful ones, to weak run-throughs in the original style. But not these. The problem lies in that most of the artists here seem to feel as if a complete renovation is obligatory. A typical way of doing so is by trying to do another Jeff Buckley to Hallelujah, stripping the song down acoustically to its root chord progressions and soft vocals. Especially given the electronic nature of many of the tracks, such attempts would’ve been welcome here, even if lazily rendered. But here the self-indulgent covers sound as if the artists have tried to force more complexity into the originals whilst making them subdued at the same time. None of them reflect either Björk’s brilliance or anything that could resemble their own bands’ sound, whatever that is (I’ve previously heard of four of these artists, listened to one).

Remember that It’s Oh So Quiet is a cover in itself, of jazz song Blow a Fuse by Betty Hutton. In the end, the fact that Björk makes the triumphant cover totally hers, and these artists’ covers are weak, says everything about her and them.

Download Stereogum Presents… Enjoyed: A Tribute To Björk’s Post
I encourage you to preview the tracks before downloading the zip, if you do. And make sure you do so out of curiosity, not an expectation of good music.

Thanks for the insight, Richaod! Honestly we were scared we were setting the bar too high with this one. But “Piss-weak” is definitely beatable. Next time.

Comments (43)
  1. homeboy nailed it.

  2. to add to it, the xiu xiu track (along with most of their recent output) just shows how the band has spiraled into what is essentially self-parody.

  3. Filthy McNasty  |   Posted on Apr 2nd, 2008 0

    Aw, are you hurt Stereogum?

  4. don’t worry Stereogum. Keep up the good work and maybe you’ll be on a par with this someday in terms of journalistic skills.

  5. pop-kid  |   Posted on Apr 2nd, 2008 0

    Really?! I thought this collection worked pretty well (I’m not a huge Bjork fan to begin with, so maybe that’s why). It’s hit and miss (as are most tribute albums) but at least I didn’t have to shell out any money for it. Any ‘blog’ that generates its own content is OK in my book. Keep the tributes coming, they’re bound to keep getting better.

  6. gimmeabreak  |   Posted on Apr 2nd, 2008 0

    This is my favorite part:

    “The problem lies in that most of the artists here seem to feel as if a complete renovation is obligatory. A typical way of doing so is by trying to do another Jeff Buckley to Hallelujah, stripping the song down acoustically to its root chord progressions and soft vocals. Especially given the electronic nature of many of the tracks, such attempts would’ve been welcome here, even if lazily rendered.”

    Should it have been some sort of starbucks medley album? please!! at least these covers see artists taking risks and approaching the songs with some curiosity. if that isn’t bjork-esque, i don’t know what is.

  7. Richie  |   Posted on Apr 2nd, 2008 0

    So he wanted to hear a bunch of people strumming acoustic guitars and doing the busker version thing? Or have I got that wrong?.. I’m impressed though that he did an extensive track-by-track review of a free covers mix that he didn’t even like. Oh well.. I’m really enjoying it, maybe moreso because Post is an album I hadn’t really been that attached to previously.

  8. doug  |   Posted on Apr 2nd, 2008 0

    This person has WAY too much on their hands, and is obviously not somebody interested in creating anything themselves. Spending your life in a livejournal, listening to yourself talk is just sad. I just don’t see the reasoning behind this person spending so much time being negative. It’s springtime dude. Go get some fresh air.

  9. Michael  |   Posted on Apr 2nd, 2008 0

    First off, the post above me by “Doug” is great and oh so true. Secondly, I knew “Richaod’s” review was going to be incredibly lame when he said, “Post is the only Bjork album I physically own.” It made me wonder what else he has in his record collection. That question was answered when he said vocalizing was best left to the Mariah Carey’s and Celine Dion’s. This leads me to believe that Perez Hilton wrote this review under a pseudonym as a means of revenge against Stereogum for all their well-deserved swipes against his awful, convoluted influence on music these days.

    But really, late April Fool’s, right “Richaod?”

    Stereogum, thanks for putting together a compilation of basically all my favorite artists doing something truly unique.

    • vmos  |   Posted on Apr 4th, 2008 0

      Well, I physically own at least five bjork albums and a bjork single was the first record I ever bought and I find myself almost completely agreeing with roachad, I like army of me and bells version of it’s oh so quiet was ok, but everything else amounted to little more that a turd sandwich with xiu xius tiresome whispers being the absolute lowlight

  10. Jack  |   Posted on Apr 2nd, 2008 0

    So, because somebody wrote a review on their blog, they all of a sudden have “WAY too much on their hands?” That’s odd. Oh, and I guess every writer on Stereogum has too much time on their hands? Every writer ever born has too much time on their hands? I don’t think you understand the concept of a review… If you dislike something, you are entitled to give it a ‘bad’ review.

    I thought saying that the writer doesn’t create any music themselves was especially ignorant on your behalf. Come on, someone writes a review and this means they have never made music before? wtf? I know for a fact that Richaod makes music himself and plays gigs. Don’t go around firing ignorant insults next time you ‘dislike’ someone’s review.

    I don’t understand your remark “Spending your life in a live journal, listening to yourself talk is just sad.” I think you are under the impression that Richaod has no readership, and I think you would find yourself incorrect on this one. Just because you do not value someone’s opinion does not mean the whole world doesn’t.

    Lastly, you declare the author as a person spending too much time being negative. What a fantastic quote, coming from the guy who didn’t make a single positive comment in his whole post. Honestly, I think you’re a fool, especially after reading the finishing statement of your post; “Go get some fresh air.” Idiot.

    • Michael  |   Posted on Apr 2nd, 2008 0

      Tell Richaod that I can not wait for his release of “Richaod Presents… Surrendered: A Tribute To Celine Dion’s A Brand New Day” featuring covers by Josh Groban, Colby Colleit, Sarah Baraeilles, Natasha Bedingfield and OneRepublic.

      Also, guess what? Richaod can have his opinion for all I care. But, the beautiful thing about America and this comment board is that I do not have to like it. And I don’t. My belief is that Richaod has no idea what he is talking about with music and charted himself into alien territories. He should have done better research on these modern day young talents before spouting off a crock of useless information. An acoustic guitar? Its called sampling and computers. Get with the times — Bjork barely uses an acoustic guitar in her music, so how can you expect budding artists heavily influenced by her and covering her to do the same?

      I don’t go around listening to hip hop or jazz, and writing reviews about it. I don’t write a blog about the economy in Morocco and why I think it is the way it is. Why not? Because I don’t know enough about those topics to make an educated opinion. You hear that? EDUCATED opinion. You my friend, are a fool, just like Richaod. Stereogum had every right to mocking this rediculous trash written by the almight Richaod.

      I’m going to get some fresh air now…

    • Jack – I would bet my copy of ITAOTS you are a giant pussy IRL

  11. Mental note: don’t link websites to blog posts about them in the future.

    I appreciate the whole “giving away free tribute albums” thing, though. I’ll try not to be discouraged by this one.

  12. anon  |   Posted on Apr 2nd, 2008 0

    I have to give stereogum props for giving us a free album of original content but…enjoyed is pretty much unlistenable. I really liked the mash-up albums from a while back, so maybe these things are just hit or miss.

  13. Roos  |   Posted on Apr 3rd, 2008 0

    Poor Stereogum – you give and give and give. What do you get? Just a bouquet of withered douchebags slung across your doormat.

    Thanks to the site and to the artists for doing cool things like Enjoyed for us – without any expectation or reward, except perhaps our gratitude.

  14. whatevermort  |   Posted on Apr 3rd, 2008 0

    My gut feeling is that it really comes down to the artists chosen and their attemptes to be terrifyingly relevant. I love the idea of this project, but I think Post is the sort of album where artists go, OOh, Post was avant, let’s be More avant! The automatic tribute was full of artists covering songs that they loved and trying – whether they failed or not – to do them well: this one felt like the artists couldn’t give a damn about a) the songs and b) the project, they simply tried to be “clever clever”.

  15. piss is usually pretty strong…

    the ‘electronic nature’ of the tracks really killed it for me too…..

  16. SD  |   Posted on Apr 3rd, 2008 0

    “Poor Stereogum – you give and give and give. What do you get? Just a bouquet of withered douchebags slung across your doormat.”

    Right… because everything free is good, right?

    *slow claps*

  17. Sad to say that I agree with this post. The experimentation was admirable, but the most successful thing about the album was the cover art. Still, I look forward to more cover albums from Stereogum.

  18. jess  |   Posted on Apr 3rd, 2008 0

    pffft don’t listen stereogum, i’m enjoying it heaps, keep up the good work.

  19. don alarmo  |   Posted on Apr 3rd, 2008 0

    I love you stereogum, but the guy is right – face it.

  20. captaincrunch  |   Posted on Apr 3rd, 2008 0

    richaod is a 17 year old from australia.

    nuff said

  21. anonymouse  |   Posted on Apr 3rd, 2008 0

    i think it’s great–and i look forward to more bold reinterpretations from stereogum. keep it up!

  22. On another note, that “Big Heavy Stuff” cover of Hyperballad at the end of your post Richaod is fucking terrible.

    Granted the Xiu Xiu bit is a pretty terrible acoustic rendering, but I would take the Dirty Projectors version over this any day. Awful.

  23. On another note, that “Big Heavy Stuff” cover of Hyperballad at the end of your post Richaod is fucking terrible.

    Granted the Xiu Xiu bit is a pretty terrible acoustic rendering, but I would take the Dirty Projectors version over this any day. Awful.

  24. I have to say, I’m not all that fond of the album myself. I’m really into the previous two cover albums; the R.E.M. one was fantastic, but this one is just a bit too noisy and unfocused for my taste. One of the things that makes Bjork so unique is her ability to ride the knife of melody and chaos and I feel like most of these artists just tried too hard to mount the same line. The fact that Stereogum keeps doing this sort of thing and giving it away is incredible though; mad props for the effort. Keep it up, I can’t wait for the next one.

  25. <3 for björk  |   Posted on Apr 3rd, 2008 0

    Ya know, i love track 6, you’ve been flirting again. I have been a bjork fan since the sugarcubes and seen her performances many times, own all her albums and remixes, and blah blah blah. I loved the new take on her songs. I appreciated the attempts to reform such a unique voice and songwriter. It’s also got me to listen to bjork again, after being shelved for a while, and has given me a new perspective on her unique and sometimes bizarre songs. So shove it, critics! Go do something useful. Ha.

  26. BBB  |   Posted on Apr 3rd, 2008 0

    It’s worth noting that Richaod is a 17 year-old kid with no legitimate critical or journalistic experience to speak of.

    • Michael  |   Posted on Apr 3rd, 2008 0

      For real? Well, then I partially take back all my criticisms of her criticism. In any case, its a good hard lesson to learn for a budding reviewer. She came off sounding like a late-30 year old man of European descent, so at least that shows she has her diction and execution down.

  27. I’d hate to discourage future Stereogum tribute albums like this, because the idea is great, but I have to agree with others that this one just doesn’t work as well as the last two (the Radiohead one is still tops). Sure, it’s in the spirit of Bjork to experiment with her songs, but the least experimental thing you could possibly do for a Bjork song is to try to out-do her by making a song less traditional, less structured, more ethereal, etc. Her arrangements almost always involve those things, anyway.

    The Liars have the right idea by taking “Army of Me” apart and putting it back together again, and the Dirty Projectors wisely just apply their own style to the original blueprint of “Hyperballad.” But a lot of these fall right apart.

    Starbucks medley albums notwithstanding, the most novel thing you can do with a Bjork song might be to play it on an acoustic guitar – or maybe as an AC-DC style hard rocker.

  28. reach out to greg dulli next time. dude knows how to cover a song.

  29. Paul  |   Posted on Apr 4th, 2008 0

    I find it somewhat ironic that many of the well-articulated indie intellectuals who write informative and insightful reviews are often the same people who ignorantly scoff at any critical analysis which isn’t supported by journalistic qualifications. There seems to be a patronising cultural belief which insists that an Australian teenager (like myself) is incapable of writing a thought-provoking musical review. If you had resisted the temptation to jump to conclusions, you may have realised that Richaod composes his own material. Also, since when is it accepted logic that a person who writes is a person who wastes their time? Correct me when I deviate from your line of thought, but that’s the impression I was given.

  30. kyle  |   Posted on Apr 4th, 2008 0

    yeah, man, enjoyed is a fucking great project. I’m not hot on every track, sure, but that’s the nature of a compilation. you guys did real good.

  31. Shawn  |   Posted on Apr 4th, 2008 0

    I hate to say it, but I’m inclined to agree with a lot of this guy’s (err, kid’s?) observations. I really wanted to love this album. Stereogum recruited a bunch of amazing bands to cover one of my favorite albums of the 90s. But something was lost in translation. They took this undulating, exuberant, and delightful album and turned it into a languid, droning, washed-out, disjointed collection of songs. Atlas Sound’s cover of Headphones is pretty fantastic, but the rest of them are just, well, meh. It’s not particularly “bad” (in exactly the same way that most of the “indie” music coming out right now isn’t, particularly), but it doesn’t do the original justice, either.

  32. tomthemode  |   Posted on Apr 8th, 2008 0

    To be honest I found the covers a bit strange. But perhaps Post is still too fresh yet, too unstable an entity, soundtracking too many makeout sessions in college, making us take too many drugs, etc — it was a transition point in Bjork’s career and she jumped off the diving board. Musically, I think Debut would’ve been a more appropriate album for a tribute. The songs are more removed in time. There’s a clear distance from what’s happening now and Debut. Even when it came out, it didn’t seem particularly beyond comprehension — its sound is dated enough to warrant reinvention. It’s also a more melodic and considered album. And I think that could yield more carefully considered covers. The energy on Post is unhinged, and I think, yep, you can only go crazier if you want to cover these songs. But who wants a crazy album of Bjork covers? The idea sounded good on paper. I was excited reading the blurbs. But the results are a bit off.

  33. Andrew  |   Posted on Apr 18th, 2008 0

    “I agree!”
    “I disagree! You’re stupid!”
    “No, I’m right! You’re the stupid one!”
    “Differing opinions!”

    I really like this Dirty Projectors track. Thanks, guys.

  34. Stephen  |   Posted on May 10th, 2008 0

    Oh noes! People didn’t like the review. Poor babies…don’t worry, pay no attention to the nasty man. I mean boy, *sarcasm*because his age has everything to do with his opinion*\sarcasm*.

    If you don’t like his opinion, then just go off and listen to the music and enjoy it. Richaod (a GUY) wrote this article not for cheap shots, but to tell people that this music isn’t worth listening to IN HIS OPINION. If you don’t agree with it, then read right on past the scathing review and click the “download now” button.

  35. Kristie Zaragoza  |   Posted on Jan 23rd, 2010 0

    I absolutely agree with the review! I also REALLY wanted to like this, but was so disappointed. I LOVE Björk, so these covers actually kinda piss me off. The covers lack depth & singers seem very disconnected from the songs. Having said that, “you’ve been flirting again” & “I miss you” were not as bad as the rest.

    • this album is great, not a fan of no age, but I still love the album/idea as a whole. I have had the pleasure of knowing shawn from white hinterland and that band is amazing. go listen to them, they are touring this month!

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