Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sigur Rós - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust

Release Date: 06/24/08
Genre: Post-Rock

I discovered this band in December of 2005. The person who uploaded ( ) simply describe it as "Everything is blank, even the booklet because the band wanted the listener to interpret the music for themselves. They sing in a made up language." I mainly tried it out just to see how messy it would be, but Sigur Rós pretty much shifted my musical taste.

Review: It's more, how do you say it. Humanized. Centered. Grounded. As much as I adore the band's past albums, I wasn't sure if I could take another album that continued to go in the foreign realm when I was already familiarized with their entire music catalog. The first single, "Gobbledigook," and also the first track on the album is completely different from anything the band has done. My initial impressions were "Animal Collective!" I've heard from countless other people that they felt the same. It has a very playful tribal melody and the tireless drumming that just won't go away. I like it, but i can understand why it would turn some people away.

Track 2, "Inní mér syngur vitleysingur" which translate to "Within me a lunatic sings," is made of Win. It has many elements of indie pop. I never heard them on the radio, but if any song deserves it, it's this one. The music itself is upbeat with engaging tings and dings. I can't believe it's only 4 minutes. The grand build to the end is monstrous. Trumpets explode!

"Við spilum endalaust" could be it's brother as they are within the same territory. A moderately drum beat starts the song off, but it doesn't take long for the piano and friends to enter. It's almost a pop song, but it sounds good. It's hard to not love this song.

Between those two tracks, we get more of the side ambients in"Góðan daginn" and Jónsi's vocals here are absolutely gazing on the surface. Excellent ballad. The music just flows swiftly and the unplugged guitars give the song a more "personal" texture. It might be too long, but I don't know. It doesn't feel like a first half song that's for sure, but stuck between the two pop tunes, it doesn't bother me as much.

What really surprised me were how remarkable the acoustic based or "empty" songs turns out to be, consider last year's "Heim" felt rather dry in my opinion. You can hear plenty faint sounds in the album, but the one-two punch of "Illgresi" and "Fljótavík" really strikes me as special. In the first, vocals are normal for once. I don't know where it was recorded, but it sounds like he's in a regular recording studio for once. No unique acoustics. I could be wrong. I really enjoy the pure sound of it being so reduced and low-key. "Fljótavík" is, at least for me, my favorite song on the new record. Everything is topnotch. Vocals, strings, piano, the brief moment of stoppage, the bridge. It almost brought me to tears.

My favorite songs of them in the past borderlined the 8 minute marks. There are two of them on this album and I just think it's funny because those two are the only ones I have trouble loving instantly. "Festival" for example has the right tone. Vocals on top of gloomy strings for about 4 minutes. And instead of a clean build up, it switches into high tempo and it's almost like the new version of "Hafsól" where it'll persistently pound away, finally crumbling into chaos. Vocals never return during the chaos and I don't know if that's a good or bad thing. During my first listen, I though it was drifting into typical post-rock crescendo land, and maybe it does. I don't know yet.

Many people would declare "Ára bátur" as the album's best. It's a worthy choice for song of the year. The singing itself is phenomenal, but again, I feel that the climax jumped too fast and it barely sustained its high point. I wanted to enjoy that feeling. If it did, it would have been perfect. Still, I can't complain about the first 7 minutes of this remarkable song. All that is there is the piano who is barely breathing, delicately touched. Choir was a nice touch, but it's barely noticeable to the unaware.

The album closes with Sigur Rós's first English song. I never really cared if they tried to do this, but it's not so much different from Icelandic. He sings the words just like Icelandic so it's still fragments of words that are identifiable, which I love because lyrics don't always converge images or emotions. It's a fitting album closer, but it lacks a lasting impression like on their other albums.

Summary: Comparing, it beats ( ) and Takk..., but I don't know if it beats Ágætis byrjun because that album is a modern day masterpiece. It's also different because on Ágætis, the songs transition to another. The new album hardly does any of that. I'm sure the track listing is critical, but I felt that this is more song based. I should mention that I'm not blown away, but whatever. I overall loved the album. It's mystic has been tone down and we get something much more personal I believe. There's upbeat poprock tracks, but the second half is killer once you're in the mood for mournfulness.

Key Tracks: Inní mér syngur vitleysingur, Við spilum endalaust, Fljótavík
Rating: 9/10

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