When it comes to reviewing a Sigur Ros album, it’s almost like walking down a cul de sac, in hopes of finding a way out. There’s an allure to each song that really depends on the person listening, whose opinion fluctuates with whatever mood they might be in. Whether depressed or incredibly overjoyed, the sounds from the Icelandic act are bound to influence. It might be the reason that a good portion of their second breakthrough album, ÃgÃ¦tis byrjun, brought out such colorful imagery in Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky, and why people treat the band like a gift from the gods. There’s a personal flair to every one of their songs, which the band capitalized on in their third album, ( ), featuring empty liner notes for one to write their own lyrics in. If anything, Sigur Ros is by far the most subjectively appreciated band in music history.
That being said, let’s take a crack at this fifth album, shall we?
MeÃ° suÃ° Ã eyrum viÃ° spilum endalaust is a different step for a group keen on mercurial, atmospheric music that could work in half a dozen science-fiction films. There’s an earthly vibe here, as if they’re enjoying the corroding tones this planet has to offer. Thanks to the excellent production by Mark Davis (and the band themselves), there’s a vacuum of noise here that breathes without straying too far. Opening the album, “Gobbledigook”, brings a raucous, knee thumping, tribal beat that essentially hints at a far different offering. Fans shouldn’t get too wary, it’s not a drastic step by any means, but it certainly hints at transitions to come.
“”InnÃ mér syngur vitleysingur” works alongside a riding drumbeat that bears similarities to last year’s LCD Soundsystem. It’s a great track that rises and rises until it lets you down, to float off an exhilarating exit, complete with bells and horns. “GóÃ°an daginn” brings to mind Pink Floyd (think “Goodbye Blue Skies”), only scratch the ominous caw of Roger Waters and enjoy the soothing harp of vocalist Jón Jónsi Ãór Birgisson.
One of the things that stands out most here is the eagerness this band exudes to break the mold, to leave the daze-like feeling that started with their debut, came to perfection with ÃgÃ¦tis byrjun, continued with ( ), and dissipated with Takk…. There are songs that drive (“ViÃ° spilum endalaust”), those that climb (“SuÃ° Ã eyrum” and the epic grandiose of “Festival”), and others that thrive on simplicity (the acoustic laden “Illgresi”). If these don’t sell you on the idea that this band’s evolving, then maybe their first English written track, the emotionally charged closer “All Alright”, will.
Those that might cringe at the thought of Sigur Ros abandoning their signature, “devised” language shouldn’t fear too much. With these lyrics (“I want him to know/ what I have done/ I want him to know/ it’s bad”), the song still retains such vague inferences, that any disconnectedness with the material is near impossible. Complaints should be both short and few, especially if fans stuck around after the band’s guitar flirtations in Takk…. With songs like the eerily familiar “Straumnes” and the desperate, emotive, yet soulful “Ãra bátur”, fans both new and old will hold hands and swoon at the delicate piece of work here.
Then again, that’s all subjective to your own listen.