Sigur Rós - Kveikur (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
IF YOU thought Sigur Ros had had their day, particularly in light of the departure of multi-instrumentalist Kjartan Sveinsson, then think again.
When approaching their seventh studio album, Kveikur, they decided to challenge themselves and expand their sound, resulting in a collection of tracks that retains the majestic, sometimes ethereal beauty of their previous best with a sound that’s perhaps their most mainstream yet.
Frequently, songs adopt almost conventional structures, while the breadth of instrumental scope feels wider than ever before. The results are, by turns, exhilarating, captivating, pensive and epic.
Brennisteinn sets the tone, opening amid what sounds like an erupting volcano (don’t bet against it) before dropping a brooding electronic sound (reminiscent of Hans Zimmer’s work on Inception), some crashing symbols and – finally – a typically laidback vocal from Jonsi. It grabs you from the outset and only gets better the longer it lasts, fleshing out the sound to create something utterly wonderful – ethereal, cinematic, epic and just plain excellent.
Hrafntinna slows things back down and is a little more ‘out there’ but Iskaji builds beautifully into something utterly enchanting. It would be an easy pick for a single given its radio friendly elements… Jonsi’s vocals soaring and laying down ‘whoa who’ harmonies over thunderous drums and swirling electronics.
Yfirborð layers in the atmospherics for its opening and seldom feels like it comes down from above the clouds, Stormur dazzles with its beauty (hitting the sort of stadium-sized heights of Coldplay at times with its mix of beats and piano arrangements), and Kveikur brings back the brooding intensity and dark electronic elements of Brennisteinn to equally brooding effect, changing tempos to dramatic but stirring effect and lending the album an element of danger.
Brightness, however, is restored with the uplifting Rafstraumur, which is one of several tracks to leave a smile on your face while setting your mind racing, while Bláþráður surges along and restores the album’s sense of urgency.
It’s left to the sombre (yet achingly beautiful) piano piece Var to round things off, by which time you’ll be yearning to hear Kveikur all over again. It’s a musical journey that is utterly wonderous… and it’s close to Sigur Rós’s best. It’s an album to enrich. Don’t miss.
Download picks: Brennisteinn, Isjaki, Stormur, Rafstraumur, Bláþráður