The Sugarcubes: Life's Too Good (1988)
A blend of arty, skewed post-punk and straight new wave-ish pop, Life's Too Good sounds like nothing before it. And, yeah, a lot of that is the strangeness of Bjork's vocals and her unusual Icelandic accent; but you also have to give some credit to the varied musicality of the songs, unpredictable yet inherently catchy, aided by a dynamite rhythm section, interesting Police-adjacent guitars, and occasional horns.
"Birthday" is the obvious entry point here, a tour de force for Bjork, and an intricate, entrancing tune to boot. "Deus" is similarly haunting, while "Coldsweat" has a wicked groove. But plenty of songs are more upbeat pop, like the rollicking horn-filled "Motorcrash" and the rockabilly-tinged "F***ing in Rhythm & Sorrow."
The biggest drawback to the album (and the band) for me is co-vocalist Einar Orn, whose spoken-word shouting is terribly grating (and, worse, distract from Bjork). (I have similar feelings about the B-52s' Fred Schneider -- like, can't you just let the nice ladies sing?) That said, it's tolerable in small doses as a narrative counterweight to Bjork (who, frankly, I suppose I also find tiring without some occasional grounding) -- like on opening track "Traitor" and the afore-referenced "Deus."
(I saw the Sugarcubes live in the late 80s back in Chicago, and Einar's annoying bark was a total buzzkill; I suppose that's kinda tarnished the band for me ever since. But the Primitives played a great opening set.)
It's definitely an of-the-moment record, and something I don't grab all that often, but it made a huge impression at the time and I still like to take it out for the occasional spin.
Here's the "Birthday" video: