Bjork first caught the ears of alternative music fans in the late 80s as a member of Icelandic band The Sugarcubes who’s 1988 single “Birthday” became a hit with DJ John Peel listeners. Upon that band’s break up in 1992, Bjork moved to London and began working on her solo debut studio album also called Debut. Many of the songs were already around in some form at that time but were transformed when she started working with producer Nelle Hooper (Soul II Soul, Sinead O’Connor).
The eclectic album starts off with the powerful tribal drums of first single “Human Behaviour” where listeners are introduced to Bjork’s impressive vocal gymnastics. The dark clouds of that track are blown away by the bright percussion of “Crying” before the clattering beat and luxurious strings of “Venus As A Boy” appear. The track floats with Bjork singing “he believes in beauty”.
The original version of “Big Time Sensuality” comes in half way through the album. It would take the Fluke remix to really set this off as one of the best singles of the 90s but the slinky beat of the original helps push the track before Bjork exclaims that “it takes courage to enjoy it” in the chorus. More powerfully is when Bjork sings that she “doesn’t know my future after this weekend, and I don’t want to”, words that virtually every 20-year-old can relate to as they dance the weekend away.
While many of the bolder tracks are reserved for the first half, the second half of Debut takes on a dreamier side with the chill beats of both “One Day” and “Come To Me”. Forty-five seconds into the last single “Violently Happy’ an irresistible club beat is introduced before the jazz horn stabs of “The Anchor Song” close out the original version of the album.
Depending on where you live, the reviews of the album went from ecstatic in the UK to a laughable review from Rolling Stone. The album is a wonder of musical styles that hold together exceptionally well. From here, Nellee Hooper went on to work with such superstars as Madonna and U2. Bjork would spend the next 25 years releasing critically acclaimed albums to a devoted fan base. Debut is an remarkable release by an adventurous and consistently groundbreaking artist.