CD CHOICE:Jonsi, Go, XL Recordings ****
With Sigur Rós on a hiatus (all having babies, apparently), lead singer Jónsi Birgisson used his time off to record a solo album. In keeping with Sigur Rós’s orchestral pop leanings, he drafted in the renowned classical composer Nico Mulhy (stints with Philip Glass, Björk and Antony and the Johnsons). The result is magnificent.
The obvious showcase on Go is Jónsi’s weirdly ethereal falsetto, which has always had a Vienna-Boys-Choir-member- on-crack feel about it. Here he really goes for it and drenches everything with his skyscraping acrobatics.
Freed up from the band constraints, there’s an immediate pop rush to Go.
The percussion throughout acts as a propulsive force. Go Do (which has a great video wherein Jónsi looks the spit of compatriot Björk) is exuberant in its execution. And much here is more up-tempo than the band’s usual sound.
The single, Boy Lilikoi, is a joyful affair, like A-Ha channeling My Bloody Valentine, and possesses a high-speed momentum that should see it troubling the high end of the charts. Like many songs here it displays a giddy sense of energy, the singer obviously enjoying the feeling of liberation from striking out on his own.
There are layers aplenty on the album; frequently you are reminded of a 4AD record, as an ambient swirl is lifted aloft by a beguiling vocal line, and on songs such as Grow Till TallJonsi gets all plaintive without sounding maudlin. Going down a vocal register and throwing on a load of cellos on Hengilas, he comes across like an Icelandic Dead Can Dance – and you really can’t ask for better than that.
Download tracks: Boy Lilikoi, Grow Till Tall