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In Brief: Björk's new "Selmasongs"

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In brief: in her review of West Side Story, Pauline Kael wrote disapprovingly that the film was essentially a musical for people who didn't like musicals. The same could be said of Björk's new Selmasongs (Elektra), the soundtrack to Lars Von Trier's Dancer in the Dark, in which she stars as a working-class woman who dreams of starring in musicals. Like West Side Story, Selmasongs screams out its intentions: "Overture" is overpowered by portentous string arrangements, and "Cvalda" offers an all-too-literal rendering of factory life (Björk yelps "Clatter crash crash! The clatter of machines!"). The album has its charms -- Björk's voice soars on "Scatter Heart," and her duet with Radiohead's Thom Yorke has a mambo-style sexiness -- but its overdone orchestrations and outsize emotions lack the resonance of Carousel and its metaphysical overtones or even the easygoing peacetime fizz of On the Town.


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