Sigur Rós: Kveikur

Fri, Jun 14, 2013, 00:00



Sigur Ros




Kveikur XL HHHH
It’s a quick return after last year’s Valtari album for the top-
of-the-world sonic spacemen. Could be they want to make a point following the departure of key member keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson which has reduced them to a three-piece. Either way, the music is as cinematic and expansive as always but there’s a new aggression to their sound. Possibly tiring of the constant use of adjectives such as “soaring” and “celestial” in reviews of their music, they kick off with an uncharacteristic snarl on Brennesteinn, which makes them sound like they’ve been remixed by Einstürzende Neubauten.

This new, scarier sound – at times they sound like Aphex Twin – suits them. The instrumentation is still immaculate but the use of more thumping percussion adds muscle. Hrafntinna is a euphonic clatter with Jónsi coming over all sad and regretful. He gets the choir-
boy falsetto out for the beguiling Isjaki. With a retro 1980s MTV feel, it’s a reminder they haven’t forgotten how to do pop. On Yfirboro they make a promising start but go nowhere with the song, but we’re back on track with the title track which has a punky undertow and is a bit of a wig-out by their standards.

It’s all the nuanced changes in direction and sound that make this album work. Hardcore fans of their earlier – “celestial”– work may feel a bit left out at times but then up pops Rafstraumur which wouldn’t have seemed out of place on Takk, and which will no doubt be heard on a wildlife documentary near you soon. But it’s the last two songs here that really seal the deal. Blapraour has a percussive soar to it with Jónsi artfully wrapping himself around the vocal line while the closer, Var, is an ambient nocturne

Yes, moving down to a three piece has changed their sound but this shows Sigur Rós want to break new sonic ground without abandoning the core values of their work. They remain, as always, an undiluted pleasure.
Download: Blapraour, Isjaki, Rafstraumur