posted on August 05, 2008 16:58
A review of the latest Sigur Ros album
Review Snapshot: Sigur Ros do branch out somewhat but in my eyes it's not in a bad way. I've seen some indifferent reviews but I challenge anyone to listen to Ára bátur and not be moved. Get the album, on CD not mp3, stick it on in a darkened room and enjoy.
The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10
Sigur Ros, a favourite band of mine for quite some time, captivated me with Ágætis byrjun, lost me somewhat on () and hooked me right back in with Takk... (despite Match Of The Day trying to hijack it!)
Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust is their 5th studio album and, before it even get's played, it has a lot to live up to. Takk... was such a massive album for the band, any subsequent work will find it hard to live up to those expectations. So to hear that the band had enlisted the help of Flood, English producer so named for his tea making prowess, suggests that they might indeed be steering away from the the 8 minute opuses and more towards 4 minute rock songs. Gobbledigook, track number 1, seems to reinforce that theory. With chants and stomping percussion that wouldn't go amiss on most contemporary British indie albums these days you'd be forgiven for thinking you bought the wrong album, except for the Icelandic lyrics of course. In saying that, it is a cracking tune and a perfect foil for those 8 minute wonders. Inní mér syngur vitleysingur, Track 2, takes the same road. This jaunt into accessibility may indeed upset some of their more hardcore fans but, frankly, I'm loving it and by the time you get to Góðan daginn you're in classic Sigur Ros territory. A beautiful song with lush sounds.
The album on the whole is filled with typically beautiful Sigur Ros songs and punctuated by those songs bordering on indie rock. Festival and Ára bátur are two of those 8 minute + wonders that take you on a journey through wonderful soundscapes. Indeed Ára bátur finishes with an immense orchestral and choral crescendo that had yours truly reaching for the Kleenex (to wipe the tears of joy that is).
Part of the charm of Sigur Ros, for me at least, is the incomprehensibility of the lyrics. I'm not a lyrics man, more of a mood man. That is to say when I listen to a song the voice is just another instrument that should sit with the song as a whole to create that mood. So I was a bit taken aback by the final song, All Alright, which is sung in English. As of writing I'm undecided if I like it or not. That indecision is brought about, I think, by the fact that I can understand what Jónsi Birgisson is saying, barely mind you, but I feel that some things in life should remain a mystery. If I understood Icelandic this album could mean something completely different.
Last track aside, I like this album. Sigur Ros do branch out somewhat but not in a bad way. There have been some indifferent reviews but I challenge anyone to listen to Ára bátur and not be moved. Get the album, on CD not mp3, stick it on in a darkened room and enjoy. That's what music is supposed to be about.
Andy KnightleyMore ...