Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sigur Rós "Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust"

On Sigur Rós' latest album (which translates to With a Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly), the band continues its progression away from the dark climes of ( ), crafting what is probably their most pop-minded album to date. (Remarkably, there are only three songs checking in at over six minutes in length.) When the first track, "Gobbldigook," kicks in, the initial reaction almost must be, "Wait, this is Sigur Rós?"

Oddly, there are quite a few of those moments littered throughout the album, which is probably as close to a pop record as the band will ever be able to get, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. After all, they have made their name on creating music seeming to be both from and for the imagined icy geography of the Iceland of our minds; and while Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust may be lacking a tune as epically moving as "Svefn-G-Englar" or "Glósóli", the album may not need them. It works spectacularly well as is and feels fresh for a Sigur Rós album, which cannot have been expected from a sweeping post-rock band with vocals that act as much as an instrument as anything that conveys any message to the English-speaking listener and signature troughs and crests that take their audience out of their bodies.

Does the album meet the insanely high watermark set by their masterpiece, Ágætis Byrjun? Upon the first fifteen listens, probably not. But I'd be hard pressed to come up with ten albums that have come out since that have, so where does that leave us? Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust is a stellar follow-up to the triumphant recovery that was Takk... There are already songs from this album that I want to see live, and that's got to say something.

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