Rantings, reviews and lists from a person who structures half his life around obsessing over music.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sigur Ros - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (2008)

4.0 ★/8.0 - 8.9

Often, Sigur Ros' music sounds like the stuff that gods might listen to. Their oozing symphonic excess and patiently paced crescendos enhance an unearhtly vocal performance that could only be that of an Angel's. But this reliance on divine weightlessness is not necessarily the element of Sigur Ros' music that makes them so good. ( ) seemed to pile on that formless atmosphere to no end, yet the album as a whole didn't quite reach the startling heights of their prior album, Agaetis Byrjun. Conversely, their new album, With A Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly (English Title), feels much more grounded, yet it's probably Sigur Ros' strongest work since their sophomore breakthrough. The down to earth qualities of the album probably comes from the fact that many of the tracks blatantly take cues from other modern bands. From the moment "Gobbledigook" bursts out of the door, parading through an Animal Collective drum circle, Sigur Ros seems to be finally showing a passion for music other than their own. Besides the 3-minute acoustic pop glory of the aforementioned single, "Inni Mer Syngur Vitleysingur" tacks a Sufjan Stevens-esque wall of glockenspiels and horns onto a driving, passionate rhythm. The combination of symphonic touches and rock-song structure makes it feel like a twin to Arcade Fire's "Keep That Car Running". Meanwhile, "Vi Spillum Endalaust" is a picture perfect ascending anthem that recalls Mercury Rev circa All Is Dream, and "Festival" wanders through familliar holy territory for it's first half, but very suddenly adopts a more earthly progression that is an exact replica of the outro for Titus Andronicus' "Fear And Loathing in Mawnah". This similarity is probably a complete coincidence, because the aesthetic here is completely different, enhanced by a more affecting build-up and bigger pay-off, but the fact that any connection can be made between the celestial Sigur Ros and a filthy bar-band that's pure Grassroots, is saying something about how far the band has come to do away with the pretentious qualities that's made them so hated by their dissentors. Admittedly, the songs gradually and completely return Sigur Ros to the sound that they're known for by the end of the album, with the breathtaking heights of tracks like "Ara Batur" and "Fljotavik", so this mainly feels like a transitional album. Nonetheless, the effect remains the same, and is only further established by the inclusion of their first english-spoken song, "All Alright". With A Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly borrows it's warmth from Takk... and it's creative layers of coos and voices from ( ), but the craft and accessibility of it's songs suggest something that their last two albums didn't (besides the post-rock friendly title) and that is tangible growth. Sigur Ros always tended to sound, on some level, like they were going through the motions just to maintain their heavenly reputation. But on With A Buzz... Sigur Ros' sincerity cannot be questioned. They've transcended their profile to become a magnificent, fun symphonic pop band.

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