Saturday, February 21, 2015

Björk Marathon: Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week!

So this band was definitely on top of the world in 1988 with a critically acclaimed hit album that would sell more than a million copies. For an Icelandic band, that was unheard of! The Sugarcubes made history with their mega crossover success. Naturally, as always, they were busy...

A little after Björk and Þór's son Sindri was born, they were already divorced. After the release of Life's Too Good, Eldon had a new girlfriend, and her name was Margrét "Magga" Örnólfsdóttir. She joined the band as their new keyboardist (she's the lady in red, center):

And Björk contributed backing vocals in Megas's albums, Loftmynd and Höfuðlausnir (and she contributed one more time on their 1990 album Hættuleg hljómsveit & glæpakvendið Stella. Einar would take part too, just for this album).

So on top of all that, The Sugarcubes went on a North American tour, and their concerts got as much acclaim as their album did. They played at The Ritz (with David Bowie and Iggy Pop in attendance!) and appeared on Saturday Night Live! I'm not sure if this little interview was taken before or after their SNL appearance, but it's funny and worth posting:

Before they'd soon record their second album, Björk made another contribution, this time singing "Jólakötturinn" ("The Christmas Cat") on the compilation Hvít Er Borg Og Bæ. 

And then, at last in October 1989, Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week! was released. And...

It was panned by critics, and didn't really chart well. It was mostly panned because of Einar's vocals. Being that he was the star showman of this album, I guess that explains why it was so hated. Not that Björk doesn't shine here either. The magic of Einar and Björk is how vocally, physically, and musically, they just worked together, balancing out each others eccentricities. The problem with the album for me is that it didn't quite work in general. There was too much Einar and not an equal balance of him and Björk. The music and lyrics are poppier and fluffier. That isn't bad in and of itself, but the charm of Life's Too Good was the complete abandon, how carefree, silly, and ridiculous it was, so much so that it was brilliant. While Life's Too Good is still timeless in its distinctively 80's time stamp, Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week sounds awfully dated now. The music never really had that same magic either. It's not terrible, but it's not great either. Instead of hot, it's just lukewarm. Most of the songs are forgettable with the only stand out tracks being the singles, which were:


Tidal Wave


And I liked "Hot Meat" only because it's Life's Too Good's "Coldsweat" with a country meets goofy pop flair.

And "Water" is very pretty with Björk's vocals and the child-like innocence about it. I can only find the Icelandic version of "Water" on YouTube, but this is as gorgeous too!

And speaking of Icelandic version, Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week was also released entirely in Icelandic, called Illur Arfur ("bad legacy").

I think this one was only released in Iceland. I have yet to find it in the states, not even on Amazon! Naturally though, the Icelandic version of the songs from this album can be found on YouTube.

Because of the negative backlash (and maybe because they were already bored of their fame and of the music they were doing), The Sugarcubes went on hiatus after a 1990 promotional tour, focusing their time instead on creating a light big band version of themselves called Hljómsveit Kondráds B with Björk on clarinet. They didn't record an album or publish any music from this era. Björk also had her heart set on creating solo projects while still dabbling in contributions and collaborations.

She provided backing vocals again, this time to a band called Gums on their album, Blessed. 

And lastly, in that same year, Björk created her own jazz group, and they released an album that is to this day Björk's most popular album in her homeland Iceland. Can you guess the album? ;)

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