on 26 October 2006
I had been avoiding Bjork's music over the years, fearing her eccentricity, her weirdness, I'd always felt she was a 'human alien'. It was until a few months ago, while I was looking for cassettes to buy on a record store, I found Debut.
And I thought to myself 'Why not pick up this one?'. So I did [though reluctantly].
Before I bought this album , I had known some of the titles. And I was frightened. You know titles like 'Violently Happy' or 'The Anchor Song' used to freak me out [silly, I know]. But that day, I decided to let go of my fear and give this record a try.
And when I bought it..I realised that I was completely wong!
This record, along with Post and Homogenic, ranks up to be one of the best records ever released.
And what surprised me more is that the lyrics, are actually relatable.
The lyrics aren't as 'outer-spacey' or as 'larger than life' than I thought.
Like on 'Come to Me', 'Aeroplane' and 'One Day'. The lyrics are talking about love, about feeling affection, desire, longing for a loved one or 'Crying' and 'Violently Happy' which are about feeling lost and longing towards someone you deeply care about.
So I was blown away.
Let's not forget songs like 'Human Behaviour' with its jungl-ish sound, hard-hitting percussion beat and spicy guitar sounds near the end of the song, it's just breath-taking. And the lyrics are also genius: "If you ever get close to a human/A human behaviour/Be ready, be ready to get confused/There's definitely, definitely no logic/In human behaviour"... Simply a classic.
'Venus as a Boy' and 'Big Time Sensuality' are talking about sexuality and attraction [most notably the former]. Whereas 'There's More to Life than This' can simply be a dance anthem, with its ecstatic beat.
'Like Someone in Love', a cover of an old jazz tune, is performed incredibly and beautifully by Bjork. Only with the accompaniment of harp, Bjork's voice soars low then high, with such emotion and heartfeltness, which makes this song so beautiful, dreamy and hypnotic.
'The Anchor Song', a short song about Bjork's life in Iceland. Here, Bjork is only accompanied by a group of brass players..and it makes this song so unique and reflective...it really captures the sense of loneliness, the solitude of the sea.
And then 'Play Dead' closes the record. Although I believe The Anchor Song would close the album better, this is a great song. Starts by Bjork screaming to the peak of the song, it's just breathtaking.
All that being said, this is absolutely a creative, artsy, innovative record that will surely impress you. It might take some getting used to... but this record is only a beginning of a ride of a Musical Genius,an ever-changing, groundbreaking artist named Bjork. Enjoy!
on 14 December 2000
The article below is mistaken. This album is far from nonsense bland pop! Although her later work is perhaps more obviously produced and more expense has been given to samples, the apparent rawness of Debut always leave a sparkle of freshness and youth. The sound is dancy, poppy, brooding at times but there is always her stunning vocals mixed with passion and her lightness and depth of being shine through. An excellent album for chilling out, thinking, getting high - her career was not born here in humble beginnings, she just allows us to see her for what she is.
on 31 July 2001
I first bought Post, so when I purchased Debut, it was with some excitement and trepidation. I remembered such delights as Venus As A Boy, Violently Happy and Play Dead, but I wanted to know what else Bjorks primary offering was about.
And, yes, there are a few tracks which have me reaching for the SKIP button, but to gloss over them with words such as "bland" is just too easy. They all have a purpose on the album, and all contribute to it.
Stand-outs to me are "More To Life Than This", "Violently Happy" and "Play Dead", but every single one of them deserves a mention.
Well worth a purchase if you already have Post and Homogenic. You have to have the original trio, otherwise how will it all make sense????
on 2 February 2006
This is a truly amazing album, any fan of Bjork should have this. I've had it years and even when I was ten I was still stunned by her beautiful voice. I love it even more now, I really love the way it is so creative and different. This was a brilliant album to kick off her solo career, and I'm so pleased she's still going now. Some people think Bjork is quite weird, but I think she's cool, and this album proves it. This goes beyond the usual pop music, its something so different and thrilling, it works brilliantly with some slow songs and some upbeat, and all unique. Daring to be so creative has payed off so well as everyone appreciates this so much. This album is also now very high up on so many peoples' lists of favourite albums. She has practicaly created a genre of her own.
"Human Behaviour" never ceases to amaze me, I love the bassline and beat and her voice works with it so well, I loved it even more when I saw the video- also great and very creative. "There's more to life than this" is a good one to dance to, and will be sure to put you in good form. "Like someone in love" is thrilling. The harp and her voice work like electricity. It sends a million shivers down my spine, I love the way she sings with so much feeling, it still amazes me everytime, and I can't get enough of it. "Big time sensuality" is another dancey one, again not ordinary, but with her own stamp on it. Billiant!
"The anchor song" is great as well, some people may be a little disappointed with it, but it really is fantastic. Again changing direction, with brass instruments, like the harp- in "like someone in love" these also compliment her voice. The words of the song are great as well, saying how she loves where she lives, and in a great way, shows her identity. Those who have the album with the bonus song are so lucky. "Play dead" is an extra suprise when you thought there couldn't possibly be anymore, and is a great one to finish off the album. It like her anthem; powerful and so catchy, and needless to say there's the amazing voice.
This album also surely must have inpired herself, and the likes of Moloko and Portishead; a fantastic new style, and one to be proud of. Its about my 6th favourite album, and without a doubt,(apart from radiohead) the album of the nineties.
on 28 October 2013
As many people know by now, this is not actually Bjork's debut album. When she was approximately 11, she released her first studio album (the self-titled Bjork) in 1977, and since then she's starred in many Icelandic rock / punk bands and proven to be a force to be reckoned with. This all makes the title "Debut" all the more ironic, amusing and interesting, but it truly is her debut, a fresh start of sorts.
This is the second Bjork album I listened to (after "Homogenic") and sits safely in my Top 3 of her albums. At points it does sound dated, but at the same time it's fresh, beautiful and one of the best albums I've ever heard (if that makes sense?!)
Now for a run-down of the tracks, including bonus track "Play Dead":
1) HUMAN BEHAVIOUR - The drums that start the song (and album) catch your attention straight away. The lyrics imply Bjork making a report on, well, human behaviour: "If you ever get close to a human [...] be ready to get confused." It may take you a while to fully appreciate this song (it did for me, anyway) but it's a brilliant lead single and personal favourite of mine, especially when the guitars kick in near the end. 9 / 10
2) CRYING - The first of the dancier songs, "Crying" is a typical example of sad lyrics with a joyful beat (and vice versa), something which Bjork seems to do quite a lot. It's best described as a very 90s song and extremely fun to hear in the car or at a party. 8.5 / 10
3) VENUS AS A BOY - While most fans seem to adore this song, I can't bring myself to love it. It's not a bad song by any means, though. VAAB is a love song with softly-spoken lyrics, lovely strings and what I can only describe as a hip-hop esque beat. The video is also quite interesting so check that out! 8 / 10
4) THERE'S MORE TO LIFE THAN THIS - Only during my fourth or fifth listen did I realise this song was performed / recorded live. I think it's because her vocals sound like they were done in the studio whilst everything else sounds live. Anyway, the song is fun and cheeky, a faster dance song with Bjork telling a friend to leave a party and get up to mischief: "I could nick a boat and sneak off to the island / I could bring my little ghetto blaster". Note: the official studio version is found on the "Venus As A Boy" single. 8.5 / 10
5) LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE - A cover of an oldie, this is one of the more laidback songs, even more so than VAAB. It incorporates what sounds like people conversing quietly at the seaside, complete with whooshing waves, and the harp only adds to its beauty. I could fall asleep to this, in a good way 7.5 / 10
6) BIG TIME SENSUALITY - The most disco of the album's songs, BTS is a happy, fun love song with Bjork showing off just how diverse her voice is with her feminine coos and famous grunts / gibberish. The video version features a remix which is good, but nothing compared to the original here. 9 / 10
7) ONE DAY - It's difficult to describe this song, but the best words that spring to mind are interesting and unique. It opens with building synths(?) and baby coos before Bjork calmly informs the listener "it will happen, one day". It's a very mystical, prophetic and magical song. Trumpets emerge just after the 3-minute mark and take the already-amazing song to new heights. My favourite Bjork song; hell, my favourite song ever. 10 / 10
8) AEROPLANE - One Day fades into yet another interesting song, Aeroplane. This song swings between jungle-esque and jazzy sounds, with slow, tribal drums one second and trumpet solos the next. It's almost haunting in a way, especially when Bjork sings about "taking an aeroplane across the world" in pursue of her love interest. 8 / 10
9) COME TO ME - Another slow, soft love song, and the way the piano is used is mesmerising. Bjork promises to care for her lover with lines such as "Come to me / I'll protect you / You know that I adore you". The soft "ooh-ooh ooooh-ooooh"s in the pre-chorus are hypnotic, and the strings used in the chorus are just as impressive. A masterpiece 9.5 / 10
10) VIOLENTLY HAPPY - It took me a while to fully appreciate this song, but once I did I couldn't get enough of it. Another obvious 90s dance song, Bjork once again displays sad / lovestruck lyrics over a joyous beat: "Violently happy cos I love you [...] Can't calm down". The music builds and builds and just gets better and better. 8 / 10
11) THE ANCHOR SONG - The only song I can't get used to. It's among the shorter songs on the album with lyrics about Bjork "living by the ocean" and is played over a repeated brass instrumental. It's not bad, but it's probably the weakest on the album, and therefore is considered a fairly disappointing closer if you have the original edition of the album. 6.5 / 10
12) PLAY DEAD - This song was included in a movie soundtrack and included on re-releases of "Debut". It merges trip-hop with an orchestra, creating a cinematic masterpiece which wouldn't be out of place on a James Bond film! Bjork take her singing to new heights in this song, showing off just how talented she is. 10 / 10
Overall, a brilliant album, one that will never get old.
on 29 December 2005
Out of all of Björk’s albums, 1993’s "Debut" is most likely used as her calling card by most music critics and fans. Many argue that the Icelandic noisenik has produced better stuff since her first foray into dance music (by my own admission anyway, she most certainly has), but the secret to Debut’s success is its mellow buoyancy, an almost clandestine succession of beats, synths and jazz flourishes held together by the most distinctive voice of the last decade. At once serene and mischievous, with an especially rambunctious vocal front and centre, "Debut" is certainly her most accessible LP with regards to the emotional territory it explores.
Of the more prominent themes on the album, there is observation and integration, no doubt facets of life Björk was animatedly experiencing herself having arrived in London to roost after years spent entrenched in Iceland’s punk scene. Björk, in the throes of first-time experience, is clearly having a ball with this new soundscape of blips, bass and sampling, as evidenced best by her opening mantra, “Human Behaviour”, a song concerning the first impressions of a new world laid before a fledgling soul. “There’s no logic,” she sings, but it doesn’t make it any less “irresistible”. The more dance-oriented flavourings of the CD communicate this effervescent longing effortlessly, key tunes being “Crying” and the singles “Big Time Sensuality” and “Violently Happy”.
Between the dance breaks, however, we find contemplative musings and wistful expressions of love, be it maternal, physical or emotional. As proved by songs later in her career, Björk is an especially engaging singer of all things love precisely because she sings about what and love feels like as opposed to trilling sugary platitudes that roll like sweet nothings from many a singer’s lips. And a lot of this has to do with Björk’s own supersonic delivery. In “Venus As A Boy,” Björk coquettishly sings about her lover in lustful reverence but never once does it suggest porn or taboo like so many singers who try to be sexy. In “Aeroplane”, her longing and exasperation never grates, yet nevertheless remains beguiling to listen to. Her cover of Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Like Someone In Love”, aided by a harp and a sparingly used string section, is the closest she gets to over-egging the mix, but thankfully stays just the right side of winsome due to the earnestness and over-emphasis on specific vowels and syllables.
Of course, Björk isn’t alone on this record, as the hand of über-producer Nellee Hooper is unmistakably present throughout. One could easily call this a duet album, with Hooper’s steady hand guiding Björk through the maze of London dance culture. With Hooper’s help, Björk’s palette reaches some interesting places, even providing the singer with the cutest moment of her career in “There’s More To Life Than This”, having her run into the toilets mid-number in a hushed rapture. Key collaborators also enter the fray more than once, particularly a pre-Mercury Prize winning Talvin Singh on hand to add some extra swoon to the proceedings with his customary tabla and strings on the likes of “Come To Me” and “Aeroplane”. It is Hooper and Björk’s show, however, and the two prove to be a natural foil throughout. By the time “The Anchor Song” has played out, a loving paean to her homeland and the only song Björk produced entirely herself, we are left with a moving tribute to what dance music can truly achieve in the right hands.
And, as life-affirming and beatifically poignant as "Debut" often is, it is the same reason that hampers it from being truly astounding. Though the slight and graceful emotional substance of the CD and Björk’s reliance on one producer gives it a completeness that some of Björk’s subsequent works have lacked, one cannot help but feel that something is missing. This is exacerbated on the UK edition of "Debut" with the inclusion of Björk’s barnstorming collaboration with David Arnold, “Play Dead”, tacked onto the end of it. Divine as it is, not only does it stick out a sore thumb, but it also jars with the effortless ebb and flow of the album that precedes it, as well as hint at a drama and resonance Björk, given the chance, could well and truly achieve with her voice. A minor quibble, but thankfully, it doesn’t deter from what a truly great "Debut" album Björk and Nellee have come up with.
on 29 November 2013
An album I hadn't previously owned and never got round to it. Finally I did and wish I had done so earlier. Amazingly different to lots of mainstream music, with a mad as a hatter reputation. Great listening.
on 13 June 2005
This is a class album. Bjork's debut album is incredible one of the best albums to come out of the 90's. The album contains a number of single releases, when i first listened to this album i was shocked and stunned. The opening track is 'Human Behaviour' which is incredible, along with tracks 'big time sensuality' 'play dead' which is incredible love the orchestra sound and is class. My favorite on the album would be 'like someone in love' which is a great record. Love the acoustic sound, brillant. 'Venus as a boy' is incredible, great song and love the music. Bjork has such a unique voice, maybe some would disagee but you cannt take away her difference in music. 'Anchor Song' is also good, and just every track on the record, if this review wasn't enough then i am disappointed. It's an album of the 90's not to be missed.
on 9 November 2015
Where the magic began. No matter how many times I hear this album I never get bored. When Bjork came on the scene in this context I was unsure of what to make of it all as I was a young lad into raving. When I started to open my mind I began to really connect with Bjorks Heart. Since then I have been happily collecting her other albums. What this led me into was more of the production sounds of Nelly Hooper who I call the unsung hero of production, he worked with Massive attack back in the wild bunch days, soul II soul and many more. But back to Bjork there really has never been another artist who (for me) expresses herself in such an open and vulnerable way. You may enjoy Fever Rey if you like Bjork as she is from the Northern part of Europe and has a unique voice. But nothing beats the Icelandic queen.
on 20 December 2006
Bjork does seem to be one of those performers which is either loved or hated. For many years I couldn't seem to get on with her sound until getting her 'greatest hits' album a couple of years ago. I figured it's going cheap why not pick it up and have a listen. I have to admit that the remixes on the 'greatest hits' album are more to my liking than some of the original album material, but I can't argue with pop perfection such as 'Human Behaviour', 'Venus As A Boy' and 'Big Time Sensuality'. Other highlights here are 'The Anchor Song' with its weird honking horn arrangement and 'Play Dead' with that incredible widescreen sound. If you know about Bjork then this review is superfluous, if like me you are a recent convert looking to dip your toe in the water I can't think of a better place to begin than her debut solo album.