Björk: "Volta"
Producer: Björk
Atlantic
Release Date: May 8

Like Tori Amos, PJ Harvey, Kim Gordon and all the other alt-whatever chicks from the mid-'90s freak sorority, Björk has no heir. If she started out in today's homogenized climate, the Icelandic vocal acrobat might get lost in the shuffle amid the flavors of the month. But that's why all her material matters, including an uneven collection like "Volta." The follow-up to 2004's experimental "Medúlla" and 2001's exquisite "Vespertine" has the usual complex drums (aided on some tracks by none other than Timbaland), throaty wails and unexpected poignancy, especially on the brass-filled, techno-traveler anthem "Wanderlust." But it has some stinkers, too. "The Dull Flame of Desire" sounds like a Shakesperean funeral dirge, and the speedy, blaring "Declare Independence" could make the most stoic criminal talk. But even Björk's misses are more exciting than most of what we currently call hits. --Kerri Mason