Sigur Ros: Kveikur


ICELANDIC ambient superstars Sigur Ros have, I must be perfectly honest here, always left me a little cold.
I’m no rock luddite, but their music has struck me as being a little bereft of the energy and excitement vital to all great music.
News that their new record was going to be darker and broodier than previous efforts made my blood run cold. Here we go, I thought, Radiohead without the fun, joie de vivre or sense of humour.
Kveikur certainly starts in the manner we were promised – Brennisteinn (Icelandic for Brimstone) rumbles open proceedings with extraordinarily aggressive fuzz bass leaving the listener with a strong sense of foreboding as to what is to come.
But if the following Hrafntinna (Obsiddian) takes us on a slight detour complete with sweeping melody and an unexpected Last Post-like ending that comes straight out of precisely nowhere, Isjaki (Iceberg) is a 90 degree volte-face. Upbeat, catchy, it’s almost a pop song and with a more commercial production and some English lyrics could easily go top 10 if the Ros boys were so inclined.
Title track Kveikur (Candlewick) itself comes on like a less intense My Bloody Valentine while the anthemic Bláþráður (Thin Thread) begins like a more electronic Coldplay before moving into Radiohead territory but keeping its head firmly in the clouds. With its incredible marching drums and terrific vocals, it’s one of the tracks of the year so far.
Sensibly, with closer Var (Was) the duo opt not to try to go one better, ending matters elegantly with a gorgeous piano-led instrumental. A beautiful way to end a quite magnificent album.


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