On Tuesday (January 13), Björk announced a new record, Vulnicura, due out in March. By the weekend, the entire record had already leaked in full. No official album cover. No actual release date. And yet, there it was.
Because today, there are only two options for a superstar act: Either go through painstakingly protective measures to pull a Beyoncé, or you upload your music to iTunes the millisecond after you hit “Export MP3.” Otherwise? Your work is ours. You don’t have a right to your art, nor a say in how we experience it any longer. You’ve spent hours and dollars writing, recording, re-recording, sampling, mixing and mastering that album for weeks and months? Great. Now fork it over. For free. In whatever quality you’ve got. And give us more while you’re at it, too.
Leaks are nothing new, obviously. When the CD still reigned supreme as the main form of music consumption, it was all but impossible to avoid the inevitable leak one to two weeks before a record’s release, be it at the hands of an eager stock boy at Target or a shady intern at Rolling Stone. Whatever. It happened. It wasn’t really okay then either, but hey, the album was about to drop the next week.
That’s not what’s happening now…or, not lately, anyway. For some reason, these album leaks are happening earlier than ever. Months before.
Before Madonna‘s Rebel Heart even had an album title, an entire stream of rough demos suddenly started spilling out into cyberspace in December. Not one, not two songs — over 30 of them in unfinished quality. And, as we know now from the tracklisting, it was every single song she’d worked on for the album. The Rebel Heart album campaign isn’t even about the music at this point. It’s the story of a superstar working overtime to counteract a massive leak.
These campaigns are just being completely ruined by assholes with a false sense of entitlement to this art, and frankly, it’s fucking annoying as a fan of not only the music, but the process of rolling out a record.
Anyway, that’s a nerd rant for you…but also a cry for simple human decency. Like, stop being garbage. It ain’t your right, to quote Sky Ferreira. Seriously.
Luckily, Björk handled the situation with grace and poise, rolling out the album for us “websitefolks” (!!!), including the truly stunning cover art. It’s out there now on iTunes UK, and it’ll be rolling out shortly everywhere else soon. The vinyl and CD versions will come out as planned in March.
“dear websitefolks , fans , tweeters and my music supporters on all the sorts of www : vulnicura will be rolling out worldwide over the next 24 hours !! i am so grateful you are still interested in my work !! i appreciate every little bit !!! i do hope you enjoy it.”
The good news? The album feels like a major return to form to Björk’s earlier, more melodic work, fitting in sonically somewhere between Homogenic, Vespertine and Medulla. There are plenty of really lush string arrangements and intriguing beats to dive into, and lots of truly Björkian lyrics to unravel (REFERENCE).
And this is, as many fans suspected, a Björk break-up record.
i guess i found in my lap one year into writing it a complete heartbreak album . kinda surprised how thoroughly i had documented this in pretty much accurate emotional chronology …. like 3 songs before a break up and three after . so the anthropologist in me sneaked in and i decided to share them as such . first i was worried it would be too self indulgent but then i felt it might make it even more universal . and hopefully the songs could be a help , a crutch to others and prove how biological this process is : the wound and the healing of the wound . psychologically and physically . it has a stubborn clock attached to it .
there is a way out
So take your time with the record…because not everything in this world needs to be immediate.
‘Vulnicura’ was released on January 20. (iTunes)