Sorry this is later than planned, guys! It was a lot harder than I expected. Rumours. Blue. Back To Black. 21. The break-up album has always been a staple of the music world; love, and the loss thereof, is an almost universal experience, but most of us struggle to fully understand and articulate the emotions involved. We rely on singers, songwriters, artists and actors to convey these feelings for us, to guide us through our own heartbreak with empathy and wisdom. Sadly, it was Björk’s turn to take up that role in 2015. Although technically written about different people, we can almost interpret a chronological account of a relationship through Björk’s career: Debut is the shy, demure beginnings; Post, the rush of excitement; Vespertine, the intimacy and security, Medúlla, the makings of a family; and then Vulnicura, the unfortunate, bitter end. Borne from the dissolution of Björk’s thirteen-year relationship with Matthew Barney, the album sees her picking apart and painstakingly scrutinising every aspect of the dying union, honestly admitting its faults and brazenly recounting her loss. Vulnicura is the sound of a woman in mourning. It’s is one of the most powerful, fiercely independent women in pop culture having her heart broken and struggling to piece it back together. Losing her love, her family, her security, Vulnicura is complete and utter devastation, and Björk isn’t afraid to admit it. Surely the most courageous thing one can do in the face of such loss is not to deny it, but to attack it head on, accept it and work through it openly and honestly. And that’s exactly what Björk did – unashamedly sharing her pain with the world, there’s no hiding behind arty metaphors and characters in Vulnicura; it’s her raw, unfiltered thoughts and fears set to an expansive, sorrowful soundscape of strings and heavy, apocalyptic production. And that’s part of what makes it so affecting – this is a side of Björk we hadn’t seen before. We’d had our fair share of breakup songs on previous albums, but they were always cloaked in mystery and ambiguity, whereas now we see everything; every anguished moment, every excruciating detail, and it hurts. There’s no escaping the fact that Vulnicura, by its very nature, is difficult to listen to. But there’s hope. Björk has always said that the writing and recording of Vulnicura – which literally translates as “cure for wounds” – was a necessary healing process. After originally admitting to wanting a short-lived campaign to get the album “over with quickly” and after being forced to cancel the corresponding tour due to emotional difficulties, just this week we saw the announcement of the Vulnicura Virtual Reality world tour and several new music videos. Björk’s continued investment in the album over a year later suggests that she’s in a much happier, more comfortable place in her life now, having worked through her grief with Vulnicura at her side. The album is not only a testament to Björk’s steadfast talent and creativity during such a difficult time in her life, but to the healing power of music in general. Björk needed to make this album. We may never truly appreciate the depth of meaning behind it (at least, I hope you all won’t, anyway), but we can certainly appreciate Vulnicura for what it is – an expertly crafted collection of songs explicitly designed to offer solace and acceptance for those who need it, not least Björk herself. And it works. Can’t say fairer than that.