Posts filed under ‘Post’
With music that is the aural equivalent of a sinus headache, “Enjoy” is the successful version of “There’s More To Life Than This.” When Bjork sings, “I wish I’d only look/and didn’t have to touch” with the lack of affect that usually indicates depression, it makes the song much more emotionally believable than the giddy voice that squeals out “ghettoblaster” in the earlier song.
This is perhaps why, when I first owned Post, the lyrics to “Enjoy” were hopelessly cryptic to me. At the time, “Enjoy” was one of my favourite tracks (I loved Tricky), but the lyrics seemed too contradictory to me to be meaningful. I still had not experienced much hedonism, so as simple as the song’s thought is, it just wouldn’t settle into a cohesive, recognizable whole for me. Now that I have had some experience of the world she sings about, they are horrifically meaningful. Now I know about pleasure magnified to the point where it becomes obsessive and claustrophobic.
When I used to drop e and dance, I would occasionally marvel at the conditions I was dancing in: there were blinding, nauseating strobes, music so loud it made my ears ring for three days afterward, heat so intense it evaporated everyone’s sweat in a fog of perspiration (the sweat then condensed on the ceiling and fell in disgusting fat drops on your head). It was literally torture conditions, and yet people willingly paid enormous amounts of money for the privilege. It was only pleasurable as long as you accepted that it was pleasurable – as long you believed that the super-stimulation was supposed to be pleasurable and was not, instead, painful.
Thus, when I said the music of “Enjoy” was a sinus headache, I meant that it was entirely appropriate for the song. “Enjoy” is about throwing yourself into over-stimulation and over-enjoyment even when your rational brain is expressing reservations and desiring simplicity. It seems reasonable that it should be married to a track of bristling horns and off-kilter organs and what sounds like noisemakers. In other words, the song is not annoying (as it is for me some days) only if you believe that the grating, over-the-top music has some pleasurable meaning for you. Although I can’t say I like “Enjoy” as much as I did when I first heard Post, I can argue that I appreciate it more now.
Although the majority of Telegram has not aged well (why, exactly, did we all like drum ‘n bass?), I think the Telegram version of “Possibly Maybe” holds up next to the original. It’s no surprise: the remix was done by Bjork’s regular collaborator, Mark Bell.
Listen here: “Possibly Maybe (Lucy Mix)“
The original plays the song for its cinematic girlishness. As I listen, I can almost imagine it playing in the background of a scene from a snappy fifties comedy – Bjork is swooning while she talks on the phone to her swell new Manhattan boyfriend. The Telegram version, on the other hand, emphasizes the song’s sultriness. This time, as the song plays, I picture Bjork dressed in a cocktail dress, singing in a smoky cabaret.
When I replay the song in my head, it’s the Telegram version that plays, but that’s because that version also has some personal importance for me. It is the version I was listening to when I had my first kiss – with a boy. I don’t mean that it was playing when I kissed him. Instead, it was all I played about the time I had my first kiss, and I loved the line “I suck my tongue in memory of you” because that’s what I did, to remember the delight of his kiss. The hermetic, lazy sexiness of the Telegram version fit my mood so perfectly. All I wanted to do was lie around and semi-chastely fantasize about him.
(Total non sequiter. Said boy has since become middlingly famous in indie circles. I won’t give everything away, but he is in a band that likes to sing about hunks who breakdance. Speaking of which – we don’t really talk, and I don’t even think he remembers me (sob!), but the last time we spoke (several years after we dated), our entire conversation was him telling me, “Excuse me, could you get out of the way? I need to breakdance.”)
In either version, the song is exactly what many people miss most about post-Homogenic Bjork: it’s sweet, easy, pop-y, and just the tiniest bit forgettable. “Possibly Maybe” is a good song, but it’s not a great song: I don’t know anyone who likes Bjork who dislikes “Possibly Maybe”, but I also don’t think anyone really loves it, and it’s not a song that makes a very strong impression.
Apart from that, the only other thing I wanted to mention was my other favourite lyric. I love the line, “Who knows what’s going to happen?/Lottery or car crash/Or you join a cult.” It’s absurd, but it fits in well with the song’s feeling of slightly unhinged and self-delighted expectation. It also makes me yearn for the days when Bjork liked fun, absurd lyrics and didn’t feel the need to discuss suicide bombers.
Sadly, the video is one of Bjork’s lesser videos. There are no inventive conceits and stunning visuals. It’s just Bjork gussied up in various different outfits. In other words, I could totally see a Top Model photo shoot where the girls have to dress up like Bjork in “Possibly Maybe”. (The bitchy one – there’s always a bitchy one – would complain that she had to be “ugly striped-sweater Bjork.”) I would say the video is worth it for the shot of frizzy-haired Bjork and Bjork licking a watermelon, but the black light was ugly and unfashionable in the nineties and it’s still ugly and unfashionable. This video usually gets a skip on my Bjork Volumen DVD.