In 2011, Björk’s Biophilia pondered the breadth of the universe, then 2015’s Vulnicura retreated, considering the singer/songwriter’s personal struggles. Now, we arrive at Utopia. She has created a world surrounding her music, filled with distinct sounds and feelings, tailored and designed to each collection.

Björk discreetly references Vulnicura's cover art on new lead single ‘The Gate’. The wrenching heart wound, which was reflective of her last album’s poignant and touching subject matter, has been transformed into a gate that she has learnt to love from. As an opening to a new project, it has the curious layers and components we have come to expect from this artist. It begins with an incomprehensible selection of sounds, a hymnal perhaps before a ghostly synth horn welcomes in Bjork’s characterful, distinct vocal. It feels like listening whilst being suspended in water, the peculiar synth tones becoming the calls of distant sea creatures. Elsewhere she continues to demonstrate her healing, the opening ‘Arisen My Senses’ is a blissful example of “more is more”. The track acts as the anesthesia to the brutal ‘History of Touches’ as harp strings, bird song, powerful artificial beats and multiple vocal lines collide with giddy urgency. Our vocalist sounds euphoric, overwhelmed by joy and details intimacy with the same gushing openness as ‘Cocoon’.

She commented her friend and collaborator Arca (Alejandro Ghersi) encouraged risk taking and there was a general playfulness and experimentation to the music the pair created for this record. The title track exemplifies this; high pitched flutes meet exotic bird calls recorded in Alejandro’s native Venezuela; the level of detail to design and production is aspirational. It successfully conveys the idyllic communities of the “Peach Blossom Spring”, a fifth century Chinese folk tale that the songwriter studied whilst creating the record.

Following on we descend into ‘Body Memory’, a place much darker. The birds are quiet now, and the beasts arrive. The choirs of Medulla have been resurrected for this ten minute epic as Björk considers her own death before spiraling into cries on agony. Ominous voices embrace her, the surroundings are a toxic state, and she has been lead here by love. Sonically there are similarities to the devastating ‘Black Lake’, both tracks run similar lengths. This could be her way of visualizing both heartbreak and hell in the context of Utopia.

Lyrically and sonically ‘Claimstaker’ is one of the album’s most enthralling and ethereal moments. Electronic beats replace the earthy woodwind tones before our narrator glides into frame, claiming this land as her own. It echoes the fantastical character Björk portrays in the gorgeous video for ‘The Gate’. She appears as a matriarchal figure for this glistening and pure nirvana.

Although most of the topics addressed on this record are future facing, she does reference her historical discography. ‘Loss’ lends the shuffling, snagging drums from Homogenic’s ‘Bachelorette’ and delicate, twinkling harp notes of Vespertine’s ‘Frosti’. It has a rich sense of nostalgia, an artist reflecting on a career and reinterpreting some of its strongest moments; it is pop with a primal edge. “Loss, we all suffer it. How we make up for it, defines who we are”. Björk still considers her divorce from Matthew Barney throughout, however it feels on ‘Loss’ she confidently presents her learning and shows she has now moved through one of the darker periods of her life.

For an artist who has historically been so visceral in her descriptions of love (see ‘Pagan Poetry’, ‘An Echo, A Stain’) Vulnicura shocked most listeners as we reached new depths of distraught (‘Family’). Utopia sees Björk demonstrating newfound strength and optimism, painting in bright shades and surrounding herself with the sounds of her own Eden. We are all kindly invited along.