Artist: Sigur Ros
Album: Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust
Comments: For the past 11 years, Iceland’s Sigur Ros has been making grand, dramatic music that comes as close to classical compositions as a band can get without being classical. Their brand of slow building decompression music is most closely associated with post-rock, but that’s a misnomer since the band has seeming never even considered rocking. Sigur Ros looked only to give life weight with massive arrangements that combine strings, woodwinds, keyboards, guitars played with bows and Icelandic howls that run the gamut from angelic to wolf-like.
This kind of music doesn’t really lend itself to silliness. Intentional or not, Sigur Ros has been a desperately serious band, both in their actual production and how their music is received by the public. Their first four albums could be found on movie soundtracks, make out play lists, and anywhere were intense not-joking-around was to be done; never on a party play list or a casual afternoon at the beach. And while Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust isn’t a complete departure from the formula, it does show the band changing a little bit.
All the division from their established sound can be heard on first single and album opener “Gobbledigook.” Right away it’s easy to tell something is different as the song is only three minutes long, a dwarf in the Sigur Ros catalog where songs can last for over 10 minutes. “Gobbledigook” is an acoustic thumper of a track that evokes a brand new feeling for a band that seems to do nothing but evoke emotion; playfulness. This song is actually fun. One could listen to this song outside of a colossal break up, or life changing car accident in slow motion.
“Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur” and “Góðan Daginn” are similar in their deviation from large-scale dramatics, although they are still built on the on the build-and-release template that the band has perfected. These early tracks are noteworthy for how much they stand out among the rest of the band’s work; some albums spin indefinitely as single bodies with no distinguishing characteristics, but these songs are songs.
After this, things revert to standard Sigur Ros. The remaining songs are beautiful and meaningful, utilizing every instrument under the sun to produce something gargantuan and elegant. This isn’t bad, in fact two cuts, “Festival” and “Ára Bátur” rank among the band’s best. However, this is safe, well tred ground for the band, and after the initial branch out of the first few cuts, it’s depressing to hear the band fall back on what is safe, no matter how beautiful.
A miniature departure of sorts, Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust continues Sigur Ros’ streak of enormously emotional music, but also hints that beneith all the layers of sound and theatrics there are people, a reminder that the minds behind even the most grand masterworks like to cut loose every now and again.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Key Tracks: Gobbledigook, Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur, Festival
Buy, Steal, Skip: Steal