Thursday, February 26, 2015

Björk Marathon: Stick Around for Joy

1991 was another watershed era for Björk: it was around this period where she was cultivating her interest in house music from contributing vocals to 808 State's Ex:el album.


Björk was featured in "Qmart":


And "Oops" (This was released as a UK single in 1991):


She also contributed to Current 93 and Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson's Island album with backing vocals to the song, "Falling."


And around that same year she met harpist Corky Hale, the man that would one day be on her debut album as a solo artist. They recorded a session together that would end up on that album, but first...

What about The Sugarcubes?

Björk understandably wanted to break up from the group and embark on that solo career, as did everyone else in the band, but for contractual reasons, they had to stay together to record one last album and take part in one last tour, which they all agreed on doing.

Released in February 1992, the third and last Sugarcubes album arrived.


Stick Around for Joy doesn't come close to topping Life's Too Good, but it's far better than Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week! This album feels very early 90's---it's innocent, fun, and energetic. And it's so Sugarcubes---refreshingly quirky, bubbly, wide-eyed, and adventurous. And of course, we have Einar's trademark constant, frantic rambling juxtaposed with the impish, girlishness of Björk's voice. The artiness isn't here so much in the songs as it was on their debut album, and gone is that wild abandon in the music itself. In some ways, there's something that feels rushed and mechanical about this record. After all, despite their international fame, The Sugarcubes at the heart of it all was a joke-band, anti-music business, post-modern punk, characterized by a black, surreal humor that was all made abundantly clear not only in their music, but even in their interviews. Nobody---themselves especially---never thought that they'd end up being Iceland's first international band, having not only one, not two, but three albums to their belt. Stick Around for Joy is their goodbye album, bittersweet, but triumphant. These ten songs all pack a punch, but some stand out more than others:

"Gold"


"Hit"

(And what an apt title for a song that would be #1 on the Modern Rock charts in the USA and #17 on the UK singles charts!)


"I'm Hungry"


"Walkabout"


"Vitamin"



The record overall received positive reviews. The Sugarcubes opened for U2 on their Zoo TV tour in October and November 1992. To coincide with these string of concerts, Smekkleysa/One Little Indian released a remix album called It's-It, and from that album, Tony Humphries remix of "Leash Called Love" (the original version appeared on Stick Around for Joy) became a #1 single on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Songs in 1992.


And Björk in the meantime was featured in 2 songs of the soundtrack for the 1992 Icelandic film, Remote Control (known as Sódóma Reykjavík in Iceland). Then, around Christmas time, The Sugarcubes performed one last gig together at the Reykjavík club Tunglið, and then, they broke up.

Stick Around for Joy like the aptly titled "Hit" is a fitting name. The Sugarcubes ended up sticking to what they loved doing: making music. Even though it may not have been the most fun for them at the end, being more of an obligation, at least through thick and thin, they did it all for the joy of it too.

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