It’s somewhat an unspoken rule that Icelandic artists must be quirky. Bjork gets by with a base mix of talent and Gaga-defying outfits while Sigur Rós is mystifying in their minimalism. Emiliana Torrini, at her best, packs the same punches of Vespertine-era Bjork and at her worst is about as endearing as Lenka’s other tracks aside from “The Show.” Tookah was a highly anticipated album that was supposed to establish Torrini as a worldwide powerhouse, able to draw as much power in her home country as in continental Europe, North America and the greater world. Though the album is a short and sweet one, (nine tracks coming in at just under forty minutes) its mellow tones reach so far into the mundane, you’d wished Torrini would simply cut the filler.
Four years is a considerable amount of time to contemplate a new album, especially when those years are packed with touring, performing and giving birth. It’s understandable that Torrini would mellow, waxing introspective as she takes stock of what lies ahead professionally and personally. A far chiller album, Tookah feels rather limp for the most part. The eponymous opening track is one of rich harmonies and bouncy percussion, something you’d been expecting and craving from Torrini. The rest of the album, up until closing track “When Fever Breaks,” explores its last song’s themes, to a point. Elevator music tropicalia turn “Home” into a rather tepid track you’d expect off a children’s album and definitely not from Torrini.
Tookah may not be the follow-up you’d expected since the commanding performance heard on Me And Armini, but for all its deviations into the tame, this LP may act as the single most revelatory effort for Torrini. No clear answers are given on where she stands within her personal life, yet the album supposedly got its name from Torrini’s yin-yang outlook. Something tells me that despite a somewhat negative review, Torrini is happy in what Tookah has ultimately become. For all the criticism, that’s something rarely seen and truly what makes an artist powerful. Let’s hope her next effort rejoins her confidence with musical intensity.