To say that Utopia was overwhelmingly stunning is practically an understatement when you listen to each track deeply, as I did when I listened to it when it immediately dropped on Spotify at midnight:
I listened to the opening track, "Arisen My Senses," with a smile. Admittedly, it's my only least favorite song on the album, but I felt the exuberance and optimism that only makes sense as a way to introduce us to a utopia as how Björk sees it. But it always raises the question: what is Utopia, how do we get there, and does it really exist, or will it, ever?
First: it's about love as it first begins with "Blissing Me" (track 2), and is then very quickly about how when a new love begins, "The Gate" (track 3) explores a deeper world within this thing called love.
From "The Gate," we enter into "Utopia" (track 4): a world of not just light, but birds, and oh, those GORGEOUS orchestra of flutes!
I don't normally like to be too comparative because each Björk album is its own unique world and creation, but I LOVE how Utopia is like a throwback to Vespertine, but, more like, a more forward-thinking version of Vespertine with the essence of Biophilia's love of nature.
"Body Memory" (track 5) is also a slight nod/continuation to Vulnicura, where even though Björk
"Body Memory" is the "Black Lake" of Utopia. So. Fucking. BEAUTIFUL. Not nearly as heart-wrenching, but oh, the feels: the choir, Arca
"Features Creatures" (track 6) is so haunting in the most delicious way. Like a ghost singing in the dark.
As someone who has been taught/playing wind instruments (flute, clarinet, and recorder) for most of my childhood, Utopia is truly a gift and a dream. And on that note along with this aside, the flutes in "Courtship" (track 7) made me swoon. Beats and flutes make a beautiful marriage.
That seamless progression from "Courtship" to "Losss" (track 8) made me teary-eyed. Utopia creeps us through a dream world and a reality world all at once, and both worlds are valid, somehow.
From "The Gate" all the songs after it are my favorite songs, honestly, but of them all, "Losss" is my favorite. The flutes are so haunting and hypnotizing. With "Sue Me" (track 9) the flutes, beats, and drums alike are a character in this overwhelming, gorgeous, floaty/air-y journey into a vision of utopia. "Sue Me" is definitely a continuation to "Quicksand": not only a warning, but a mission. We must not repeat mistakes and we must break curses. We don't only owe it to ourselves, we owe it to the future to be and do better.
"Tabula Rasa" (track 10) makes it louder and clearer to me that the message of the album is not about a PERFECT world, but a more balanced one. Light and darkness can coincide without one overtaking the other, where they both serve their purpose, in their own way. This song is also telling us to STOP: we have to think about our children and the world we're bringing them up in.
Back to when I mentioned how Utopia has some of Biophilia's essence: "Claimstaker" (track 11) reminds me so much of "Thunderbolt," but with more urgency, in ironically a very gentle, but still defiant, way.
We're back into that seemingly perfect world of Utopia again with "Paradisia" (track 12) with more flutes, bird calls, light, and hope than ever before. It's the shortest song on the album, but is still so chock full of majesty. "Paradisia" takes us into "Saint" (track 13): it's here where it's as if we're basking in this new world, taking the time to stay still and soak it all in.
With the final track, "Future Forever," as cheesy as it will sound, it encompasses how Björk will always be the future and she'll always be forever. Utopia really is about love, so full of it, and blooming with reality, darkness, anxiety, doubt, and pain. But still: it's love.
As to my final thoughts:
Utopia is rooted on a vision that more than likely the hardcore Björk fans will warm up to immediately while leaving the rest of her fanbase cold. But we all know this: Björk music only gets more challenging with every record. And for that, we're blessed.