There’s More To Life Than This
I’ve been finding it difficult to write about Debut. This is partially due to unfamiliarity: I haven’t listened to most of the album tracks in over eight years. I originally received Debut as a taped copy from my friend when I was fifteen (Sorry RIAA! I was a poor teenager), and that copy kept me pleased until I left for university. By that point, however, I was falling so deeply in love with Post that Debut seemed unsophisticated and silly in comparison. So, when I misplaced my taped copy in one of my subsequent numerous moves, I didn’t mourn its loss, and never got around to replacing it.
Re-listening to the album for this blog, therefore, has been an odd experience. I hate how non-Bjork fans deify the album and ignore much better work in her post-Post discography, so I’ve been trying to suppress an urge to be really harsh in my discussions of the songs. I figured I’d start with a song that is relatively unimportant to the whole album and the only non-single I clearly remember.
And I remember “There’s More to Life Than This” mostly for it’s little as-heard-in-a-bathroom-of-a-large-club conceit. It’s the sort of thing that excites kids who are starting to fall in love with pop music. The gimmick makes the song seem fresh and unlike anything they’ve heard before, and teens fuel novelty in pop music because they want music that captures their generational spirit, and is not something borrowed from their parents.
The conceit certainly excited me in this respect, but it and the song itself also did something even bigger. They transported me to the world of London dance parties and drugs that helped produce Debut. My suburb was pretty dance club-free (and I was too square to do drugs), and the idea that you could get so tired of partying you would feel the need for something more substantial was wonderfully exotic, mindbogglingly decadent and, of course, hopelessly attractive for a housebound teenager like me. At fifteen, I wanted to dance all night in a London club and complain about having too much fun. Heck, I wanted to have any minor improvement over the never-ending boredom and humiliation of Brampton, Ontario. The song was a small voice saying: it doesn’t always have to be this way. Eventually, it’ll get better. And for that reason, I liked it.
Now, however, the album version feels overwhelmed by the gimmick. Like the rest of Debut, it is glossy and professional and it is undeniably charming. But I also don’t care. I may have been initially attracted to the song’s decadent conception of London nightlife, but since I have had my taste of the song’s sentiment – and London’s nightlife – I can see how slick and toothless the song’s portrayal is. Listening to it, you don’t imagine that Bjork feels overwhelmed by partying. Instead, she still sounds way too excited by it. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but Bjork’s song is too vital and innocent, and sounds much too much like my own lame teenage attempts at mimicking world-weariness for it to have substantial emotional depth. Which, I suppose, is why I connected so well to it at the time.
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