’ seventh studio album, (XL Records), returns the Icelandic band to a sound more reminiscent of their native landscape: beautiful, barren, and rocky. The album retains some of the watery electronics prevalent on Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (2008)., their 2012 release, but harkens back to the chimes, post-rock guitar, and traditional beats on (2005) and
I saw Sigur Ros perform at Bonnaroo in 2008, the first year they toured with a fucking marching band. It was outrageous (white and red suits and instruments), mind-blowing (the level of professionalism on so many instruments), absolutely the most thrilling concert I’ve seen (though I was hopping up and down like kernel to witness the ever-changing set). And it was a concert—like watching Led Zeppelin or the New York Philharmonic. The sun was setting, the energy was enormous, the crowd was full of psychedelics (and probably void of any real food), and the sound was enrapturing! It was an “experience;” after which, oddly enough, I stopped listening to the band. As if Sigur Ros music exploded and I couldn’t possibly put the pieces back together. The same pieces, I think, the band compiles every album out of. As if the music exploded for them too. is a variation on a theme—gorgeous and unusual, but I just don’t like doing the same puzzle (a castle in the clouds; a seaside view with lighthouse; a flock of Escher-birds; some faeries in a magical garden) over and over again.
The thing is, I love this album, just like I love a puzzle when I’m in the mood. It incorporates a few different elements, but mostly it infuses the Sigur Ros style I like the best (rock) into the fantasy. Starting off with a heavy chain of a song ("Brenniseinn"), the album drags slowly over a medieval landscape. Fanfare and horns (in "Hrafntinna") lower down the promise of something Sigur Ros-traditional and fun ("Isjaki"). The title track