Sigur Rós: Kveikur
Sigur Rós has been creating ethereal, beautiful soundtracks for the European highlands and mountains for two decades, but wasn’t always the pretty, sentimental crooners they are today, especially coming off of the coattails of the reserved, liquid love that was 2012’s Valtari. their debut, Von, was a very different record. It was dark, powerful and cataclysmic, it was strong and it holds up even today. This kind of acknowledgement to the inevitable, shuddering darkness isn’t Sigur Rós only effort in Von’s direction anymore. Kveikur follows the same mood, but in a completely different manner. The record opens up with churns and wails that could easily work as the opening to a soundtrack to a film of the apocalypse. It takes off with wailing percussion and the most sinister of bass guitar before the rest of the stripped own ensemble join in, Jónsi’s heavenly falsetto fighting to keep its neck above water the entire time. Sounds great, right?
Unfortunately, this easily describes most of the songs on the record,with slight wavers in the embrace of angst. Eventually, however, Jónsi’s voice is pushed to its limits and he comes close to something resembling a yell between angelic chants and wordless howls, especially on the unorthodox, loud title track. That’s halfway through a cloud of banality however. There are a couple moments that almost resemble Coldplay in its indifferently uplifting sound (they’ve done it better on countless occasions, but these additions still contribute fresh sound) such as Stormur and Rafstraumur, but the gem, if not the opener of Brennisteinn, has to beBláþráður. It actually grows and feels organic in reminiscence of their slowly growing back catalog. It ends with Var, a graceful, quiet nod to Valtari. With most of Sigur Rós’ music, it steals away ten or fifteen minutes at a time, but with the all too uniform sound and lack of growth in Kveikur, the minutes drag.
Each song stands perfectly well on its own. Brennisteinn and the title track’s blaring bass and effects leave shivers, Ísjaki andYfirborð are airy, sentimental cuts and the closer hums along acting as a fond farewell, but on the same album they do not belong. They act more as cutting room regulars to any other Sigur Rós album, powerful tracks that didn’t fit the mood of Takk…, Von or ( ). The album lags and piddles around, and while powerful and shaking, truly a harrowing and edifying release, they’ve done better with less sound.
Sigur Rós’ Website
Watch Kviekur (the song)