With DEBUT, the Icelandic thrush Bjork Godmundsdottir (late of the Sugarcubes) brings her knowing innocence and quirky voice to bear on an engaging program of renegade pop tunes. The unusual instrumental textures on songs such as "Human Behavior", fleshed out with timpani, small percussion instruments, vibraphones and harps, suggests a post-modern version of Phil Spector.
As a singer, Bjork's swooping octave leaps and guttural cries betray the elemental contradictions in her music. She projects the girlish innocence and barely constrained sensuality of a wise child, old beyond her years (the techno-reggae romanticism of "Venus As A Boy", the bouncy house changes of "Big Time Sensuality" and "Violently Happy"), and sometimes she sounds like she's trying to rediscover how such doe-eyed love might actually feel, as if for the first time (the mysterious groove of "One Day" and the jazzy standard "Like Someone In Love", with its spare harp accompaniment).
There's a pronounced techno feel to DEBUT, with its airy synthesizers and spacious, uncluttered mixes, but without the cool, mechanised detachment of that genre. On "Aeroplane" Bjork combines a saxophone quartet with Middle Eastern-flavoured percussion to steer her tale of obsessive love just outside of the pop mainstream, while the unusual saxophone harmonies of "The Anchor Song" lend a folkish colour to her extended metaphors on home and erotic immersion. It's precisely Bjork's sense of adventure that gives DEBUT such a cool exotic flavour.