Brad, Hollywood 09/01/2013
I am happy Sigur Ros is back together and back making the kind of albums that I love... Dreamy and Icelandic and emotionally softcore in the way that only Sigur Ros knows how.
For anyone who may have given up on Sigur Ros after their last tepid record, Kveikur opener “Brennisteinn” seeks to immediately bring them back into the fold. Exploding distortion, violins and guitar strings that bow in and out of tune, and hard-hitting polyrhythmic drums provide the backdrop, while Jonsi provides some of his most memorable glossolalia to date, particularly in the song’s second half. It’s a welcome return to the more ferocious sounds we heard from Sigur Ros on ( )’s “Track 8,” for instance. “Hrafntinna” takes things down a notch, with clanging percussion and heavy orchestration, but it’s no less emotional, given Jonsi’s more direct singing. Everything that follows is a more direct and catchy version of Sigur Ros, but Kveikur doesn’t suffer depth because of this. Songs still erupt out of the gate and flow naturally into a gradual decay, but the movements of “Isjaki” are memorable and hooky. Jonsi in particular has made Kveikur an album that connects emotionally, warping his vocals digitally in “Yfirboro” and making himself vulnerable on the moving “Stormur.” Those who enjoy the great expanse the band can create are better served on another album, though serene closer “Var” offers respite from the clamor. But for those who have been longing for songs as dear to them as classics like “Svefn-g-englar” and “Gobbledigook,” Kveikur is heaven-sent.