Sigur Ros has really seemed to garner a lot of publicity and break into a more mainstream music world with their latest album which translates to “With a Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly”. Being a relative newbie to the band myself, I was excited to be a new fan just in time for an album launch. While nothing is relatively new here, its all put together so well and so distinctly Sigur Ros (albeit with a smile) you can’t help but get sucked in.
“Gobbledigook” opens up with fast paced tom drums thundering to acoustic guitar chords and ab lib vocals. This is defiantly the most straightforward fun song I’ve heard to date from Sigur Ros and is a welcome direction change. It’s so uplifting and enlightening I’ve had it on repeat on most walks to work the last two weeks.
“Inní mér syngur vitleysingur” continues the new uplifting vibe with plenty of vocals, strings and xylophones to keep you going. This song’s tempo is great for a stadium song for everyone to clap to. As ever the build up to the finale is momentous.
“Góðan daginn” is much more the Sigur Ros I’ve gotten to know. Its gentle and subtle guitar and percussion melts over the vocals like a dreamy snowflake falling into the palm of your hand. By track three you already know that you’re in safe hands and you can drift off knowing so. “Við spilum endalaust” brings out the more rockier side of the band with thick bass lines and rising chords getting you ready for a big chorus that delivers. The inclusion of brass here like the second track really boosts the euphoria felt on the choruses.
Then we hit the first epic song. Clocking in at 9 minutes, “Festival” takes its time slowly forming spacious keyboard sounds and guitar ambience that revolve around vocals that could rival Lisa Gerrard in emotion. Then half way through the band kick in with thundering drums and bass lines like a manic Celtic dance that grows and grows into a fine frenzy of a finale! Fantastic.
“Með suð í eyrum” gives us piano for the first time as a backbone for this uplifting piece with a quirky drum roll beat that really marches the song onwards and upwards. The piano stays on for “Ára bátur” foe this slow ballad which is joined towards the end by a chorus and orchestra for one of the most beautiful pieces of music you’ll hear in 2008. Worth of any film, soundtrack, singer/songwriter or band. The sheer scale is astounding.
“Illgresi” takes things back to the acoustic guitar for au understated track which stands out for not standing out. It’s nice to have a song with no dramatic kitchen-sink endings no matter how good they are! “Fljótavík” is a warm and sparse track too with a lovely flow to the piano, guitar effects and strings. This is then followed through with “Straumnes”, a two minute warm blanket of music lifted from the previous song but left as a open flowing instrumental.
“All Alright” closes the album with a first for Sigur Ros, an English spoken song! Infused with gentle brass, piano and keyboards the song wades through your conscious until it slips away.
So Sigur Ros certainly doesn’t disappoint. Once again they play on the heart strings and actually have some fun on this album. New fans would do well to start here and old fans will not be disappointed as the same formula hasn’t really changed at all. There’s a bit more joy behind it perhaps? Whatever it is let’s hope it stays for the next album. Contender for album of the year? You Bet!