Self-deprecation is worth its weight in smoldering phoenix-ashes and baby unicorn tears.

   Sigur Rós: Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust

 

   Year:  2008

 

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Sigur Rós is, to me at least, inexplicably popular. I don't really understand how a band that sings in either Icelandic or a made-up language and that composes as down-tempo and chill music as they do gets as large of a following as they do.

I've been a fan of theirs on and off since the first time I heard 2005's Takk, but it's only been in the past few months that I've really listened to them in earnest. They've got an undeniable style, but they can be very hit-and-miss with me. Some of their stuff I love with a passion, and I listen to over and over, whereas some of it only results in an echoing 'meh'.

That's certainly true of their newest album. (For sake of my typing sanity I'll refer to it through the rest of the review as 'Endalaust', because it's a word I can type with a normal English keyboard, unlike most of the words in the title.) It starts with a bang, offering what may be the most energetic, moving, and engaging song Sigur Rós has ever released; from its acoustic guitar to abnormal rhythm structure to its chorus of happy singers to its fast, unusual (for this band) beat, it's almost a perfect song. It makes the entire album start with a roar.

And that roar continues rather well through the first five tracks of the album, which are impeccably good. Still signature Sigur Rós style stuff, but with an energy and a vibrancy that they've never displayed. It seems the diametric opposite of my favorite disc of theirs, the oddly titled (). While 2002's parenthetical release was dark, heavy, and slow, the first half of Endalaust is almost poppy and brings an immediate smile to my face.

Regrettably, they can't seem to sustain that new, vibrant sound through an entire album.

The second half of the record, from about the sixth track on, feels like an empty rehashing of earlier releases of theirs; it's devoid of anything new or groundbreaking, and is completely disappointing after the first half. It's as though they had enough music for an amazing EP that would take the band in an entirely new direction, but got scared of losing fans or something and crapped out some boring follow-up to make it an LP.

And that bothers me. By the time I reach the last track, almost all of the goodwill this album built up through the first few tracks is lost on maudlin repeats of their old sound. Thankfully, I can either just push play again and enjoy the first few songs, or I can just open up my music player and give the dark, moody () a listen again.

So that's what it comes to. I only really ever want to listen to the first half of this album. It starts so very, very strong, but loses steam far too quickly.

Tracks to catch: Pretty much the first five tracks. The opener, 'Gobbledigook', is by far the best song Sigur Rós has ever put out up to this point, and I can't help but grin when I hear it. 'Inní mér syngur vitleysingur' uses a lot of loud, brassy horns to make its presence known, and is a warm, fast song, full of life and energy. 'Festival' starts out slow in usual Sigur Rós style, but builds to an amazing close.

Rating: 3/5

I'd love to give this album more, and the first half would easily earn a 4 out of 5, but the second half almost bores me to tears by the time it's over, bringing the overall rating much lower than it would have been. If you're a fan of Sigur Rós, check this album out, and pay special attention to where I think the band might be going in those first couple of songs - it's exciting new territory. If you're not familiar with the band, go listen to () and cry for awhile, because it's that emotive. All in all, it's a pretty okay record from a pretty okay band. While I wish there were more meat to it, it's still a decent outing.


Comments
on Jul 17, 2008

Nakidd booty!  Ok, sorry, I'm not being serious here...

on Jul 17, 2008

Naked men!  AAAHHHHH!!!!!  My eyes, my beautiful, beautiful eyes!

 

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