Considering I have some experience with what Bjork is singing about, you’d think this song would resonate with me more than it does. But it doesn’t, and like “There’s More To Life Than This” it seems like Bjork is playacting the emotion of the song rather than genuinely feeling it. Which is fine – she was still young, and we have plenty of evidence that her emotional range has matured.
Her superficiality on this song is also probably due to an effect of her naturally optimistic outlook. Bjork didn’t manage to harness sadness well until … actually, never. Come to think of it, Bjork really doesn’t do sadness. (Weird, hunh?) Even when she does do sadness – like “I’ve Seen It All” – it comes off as bittersweet happiness. Bjork is way too nice to force her negative emotions on other people. She’d rather say “It’s okay! I’m only going blind! Nothing to see!” than bring someone down. I think it’s an interesting point to consider about such a wide-ranging artist, and I’ll get back to it when it is more appropriate.
As for the backing track: it is pretty dated. It still pops and crackles, and I enjoy the loneliness-of-the-dancefloor bit (“There’s no one here/And people everywhere”), but the dated signifiers overwhelm the song’s enjoyability. “Venus As a Boy” comes on right after I’ve finished playing “Crying” and the comparison is shockingly unfair to “Crying.” Not that the song doesn’t try – there’s even a hard rock section filled with geetars – but it’s all lateral, competent perfection with nothing weird or hooky about it. And the weirdness seems so mannered that it only adds to the song’s deadness.
What is exciting to note – and this is true for most of Debut – is to compare Bjork’s voice with how it’s since evolved.
-Her voice is thinner and less warm than what she’d achieve on “Joga” and later tracks, but it has a great naivete she never had again.
-It is more controlled than her Sugercubes work, though. She tended to be more punky and screamy with that stuff, and here, as in most of Debut, she is stretching herself by putting on different poses. “Crying” is a song for the forlorn pop diva, so it is understandable that she’d err on the side of perfection rather than raw emotion.
-Her voice is breathy and feathery: she brings in power either at the beginning of her syllables or at the end (and in the choruses) and lets the rest of the word flap in her slightly wheezy-sounding vocals. In later work she’d tone down the wheeze and make her voice more clear.
-Her English has some idiosyncrasies she’ll lose later: she pronounces “carefully” with a sort of soft “ch” like “L’Chaim” (she does something similar on “Life” when she says “jettoblaster”).
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