There’s not many words to descirbe my first impressions when listening to the new album by our iclandic favorites.
To say I have expected their new record to sound anywhere close to this would be a blatant lie.
It takes until the last song “Var” that I rediscover the Sigur Rós I once knew. These immensely vulnerable drops of piano, the strings that build the kind of mystic atmosphere, but no vocals. I have troubles to put into words what happened during the 45 minutes prior to that last song. Kveikur is some of the hardest stuff the band has ever written. It is so heavy, at times industrial even. You can spot sounds of metal being hit (“Brennisteinn”). The bass is so dirty and intense that you wonder why a bass doesn’t sound like that on every record from yet until the end of our days. And yes, of course the vocals are still sung in a language I’ll never be able to understand, yet it appears more powerful and willing to move mountains. The drum sound tops everything though. It seems to me that the band has payed very close attention a couple of years ago, when a Scottish band visited their studio to record their 2nd full length. I just can’t figure out why the snare drum sounds exactly the same.
I had started to run out of patience for the band recently. Their earlier work up until “Takk…” is mesmerizing, but the following albums just did not do enough to convince me of a bright future with Sigur Rós. When I saw them live at Berlin Festival last year, I wasn’t convinced either. The whole festival had struggled with the acoustics of the old inner city airport. The band stepped on stage around 9 o’clock, it was already pitch black, and just as they opened their set, heaven opened its floodgates. It was actially a great set, though for some reason, I wasn’t able to fully enjoy it – or soak it up properly, as I was drained anyway…
So ultimately this is a grand return to old heroics for Sigur Rós. With every further listen, it captivates me more and more. The attention to detail and the way the band captures the listener has always been one of their strenghts. But instead of going a bit hippie, the new album’s darker sound adds a new quality and layer to their sound. Highly recommended!
The album is out now on XL. You can order it here.