Wow. It has been so long since Guðmundsdóttir has let go of her art, and put it out there in the world. Her last album landed her an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She took us on a ride from the microscopic interacting of cells and viruses all the way into the galaxy. But the stars have faded, and in the abyss we find only a woman, heartbroken. The work came as a two-month early release surprise to the anticipating.
The album documents the stages of the destruction of a relationship and family. In the first incidence documented in Stonemilker we are given a glimpse into the desolate emotional landscape she accompanies us in throughout the album. If Biophilia took us out into interstellar space, tying macrocosmic to microscopic, Vulnicura takes us back down through the Earth's atmosphere, shedding "layer by layer" revealing a devastated wife and mother.
Songs reminisce over the destruction of family, asking if there is, " a place to mourn death of my family?" At the center of the wound lies, Black Lake. A ten-minute stringed composition that shows her skill as a composer, and not just a didactic of pop music. In fact, many of the individual pieces extend beyond three and four minutes; the standard time for a pop radio station listener's attention. She is also unafraid to break the mold -- leaving out repetitious choruses, preferring insightful and articulate prose.
Vulnicura is a document of the human experience following the work-up, let-down, and aftermath of a Notget shifting from victim, to struggling hopeful, back to where she had all of our hearts as a warrior of love in Homogenic. We can only feel with her, now that her shield is gone. She is vulnerable again, Biophilia's sophisticated layers exposing a real human being. It is hard to look away, and the artist knows herself she cannot benefit or regain what has been lost with our sympathies or consolation.
Vulnicura is a welcome return back home to the human soul. Guðmundsdóttir employs metaphors that do not lose us in science, she doesn't hold distance between the listener and herself in the way she did with Biophilia. The wound is beautiful and noble, and horrific at the same time. The pristine snow landscape of Vespertine is gone, we are left with a scorched and scarred black landscape walking alongside the ghost who cannot leave there.