The consistently elusive Sigur Rós returns to bless our ears with more soft-spoken Icelandic genius. Is that too much? Perhaps, but this is coming off of their double-disc collection of b-sides Hvarf-Heim released barely a year ago, not to mention the extensive touring they have done in between. I first heard Sigur Rós being played in between sets of a high school production of The Chocolate War, soon after the release of ( ). I was intrigued by the beautifully sparse melodies and fleeting vocals spoken in a foreign tongue, and theyve been a long-time favorite since then. However, I have to admit, Ive been a little bit behind the ball in the past few years.
Sigur Rós has always walked a fine line between popular obscurity and super-stardom in my mind. They never graced the covers of all the major music magazines, but gained almost universal international praise, in addition to playing epically long sets at large, sold-out stadiums across the globe. Their tracks have been featured in various American films throughout the past decade, making the sound almost more prominent than the name. Sigur Rós is often noted for their use of Vonlenska, a nonsense language reminiscent of Icelandic only in its use of syllables and cadence.
This is the fifth studio album for the band, and in turn presented the most hype and highest positions on the charts for the group. The album opens with Gobbledigook, a surprisingly straight forward song for Sigur Rós, with layered instruments and an upbeat percussion section. The melodies are as good as theyve ever been, even if they seem to be tightening their sound to be more marketable. Now, I am not accusing them of selling out, but this is certainly not the spacey ten-minute tracks we remember from Ágætis Byrjun. But not to worry, were graced with the style we know and love on tracks like Festival and Ára bátur.
Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust also boasts the bands first song recorded with English lyrics, All Alright. The song slowly comes in with a piano and an array of soft brass horns, the vocals not coming until about halfway through the song. Sigur Rós really hasnt changed things as drastically as it may appear on the first listen. They humored the impatient listeners with a few fuller tracks, but returned to their true style in the ways that we want it to. Essentially, theyre just extremely good musicians, and I dont doubt that this would sound good regardless of what direction they decided to go in.
8.3 / 10
I came to know Sigur Rós through their early material, all very long, dreamy recordings with just a hint of pop rock bliss to ground them. Ágætis byrjun and ( ) are the albums ...
Posted Dec. 10, 2004, 7:53 a.m.
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