Sigur Ros
Agaetis byrjun


4.0
excellent

Review

by Andrew H. EMERITUS
January 16th, 2005 | 336 replies


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist


Sigur Ros released "Ágætis Byrjun" two years after the release of their debut album, "Von".

The band had made some changes, namely the recruitment of keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson, making Sigur Ros a group of four. The year 2000 was the year that Sigur Ros became famous in the US, not long after they had released "Ágætis Byrjun". Sigur Ros create some of the most unique music around these days with a unique way of putting together ideas and a unique vocal style. It's strage how Iceland is such a tiny country, yet the quality of it's music (Iceland's most famous artists are Sigur Ros and Bjork) often exceeds the quality of music from many entire continents.

The Band
Jónsi Birgission (Vocals, Guitars)
Kjarri Sveinsson (Keyboards)
Orri Páll Dýrason (Drums)
Gorggi Holm (Bass)

It's easy for Sigur Ros' debut album, "Von" to be overshadowed by the highly rated second album, "Ágætis Byrjun". Many people seem to think that Sigur Ros came out of nowhere with this spectacular album. "Von", however, is an excellent debut album and this record builds on it's success. There are no more experimental 10 minute long noise tracks. For some listeners, this may be a disspointment, but for most, it's an improvement. On this record, Jonsi sings in "hopelandish", a term coined to describe the mix of icelandic and gibberish that is contained in the vocals of this album.

The addition of a keyboard player changed Sigur Ros' sound very much for this record. The music is now very strings heavy and is often based around piano parts with vocals simply adding another instrument to the music rather than being the complete central focus of it. There are other different instruments in the music now as well. "Ný batter*" is full of many different brass instruments, played in a panicking, desperate way. The drumming on the album is sometimes interesting, sometimes just there in the background, driving the music along. The bass work is mainly just background stuff but on a couple of songs it takes a lead role and works extremely well. Some of the tracks mix musical ideas extremely well, but for some there might be too much in the song at once. A song like "Hjartað Hamast (Bamm Bamm Bamm)" mixes many different styles but is very dense. Most of the music is very thick, with lots of different parts to discover with each listen.

There are many different moods throughout the album, more than the other two full length Sigur Ros albums ("Von" and "( )"). There are beautiful songs that seem to just float around the listener ("Svefn G Englar"), others are pretty and lightweight and make the listener smile ("Ágætis Byrjun"). Some are desperate, full of vocal wails ("Ný batter*"), some mix all of these moods ("Hjartað Hamast") and others are somewhere in between all of these. The different moods make it an enjoyable experience for the listener and make the album seem more like a musical journey than a collection of songs. The best parts of the album, however are the parts that make the listener feel as if they are listening to the music of another world and completely absorb the listener into the song. The real impact of the album comes when it is finished and the listener sits back, amazed, head full of thoughts and reaches for the repeat button. This is an album that is hard not to like, no matter what the listener's musical preferance is. Nearly every song on the album is a highlight.

Song Highlights
Svefn-G-Englar
Olsen Olsen
Ágætis Byrjun
Ný batter*

Pros
- Hard not to like
- Beautiful
- Thick with great instrumentation

Cons
- Most songs are long and may bore some
- Music can be too dense for some listeners at times

FINAL RATING: 4.5/5



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Comments:Add a Comment 
KappaKid17
December 24th 2004


5 Comments


Great review, Br3ad Man. It does the album some due justice. I think sometimes Agaetis is usually overlooked in light of ( ).

Rep++

Phunphone
December 24th 2004


32 Comments


I was thinking about reviewing this today... oh well, you did a great job :thumb:

I think this one is as good as ( ), and I find them hard to compare. This one is not as dark, haunting and melancholic as ( ). It is more bright, and fresh; and that's what I like in it. I agree with eveything you said, all the songs are really good- not a single let down.

My rating is the same: 4.5/5

EDIT: Forgot to add, Jonsi sings in Hopelandic only in the song "Olsen olsen". The rest of it is in Icelandic. As an extra information, Intro is a part of Agaetis Byrjun, reversed; and Avalon is a part of Staralfur, slowed down.

Oli_m
December 24th 2004


16 Comments


Awesome review. I can't believe this wasn't done before.

I feel i should add something so....as well as the brass on Ny Batteri, a broken cymbal was used that the band found on the street. That's all, for now.

Bartender
Emeritus
December 24th 2004


826 Comments


Good review. This is the only actual Sigur Ros album I own, and it's very good. Olsen Olsen was the first Sigur Ros song I heard, I think, and it's still my favourite.

Dancin' Man
December 24th 2004


719 Comments


I remember seeing this album on my ex-bandmate's floor and we made fun of him for listening to funny music. Now I listen to it. I like () better though.

Med57
Moderator
December 24th 2004


1001 Comments


I keep on meaning to get either this or ( ), sometime...:-/ Good review though, and as a band, they really interest me.

Happymeal
December 24th 2004


330 Comments


The first song I heard from them was Staralfur, it's beautiful. I'll get this after ( ). Nice review as always Andrew:thumb:

br3ad_man
Emeritus
December 24th 2004


2125 Comments


Thanks for all the nice comments and the little facts that I didn't know everyone

I'll have a review of "Von" (their first album) up by tomorrow or the day after.

blueyxd
December 24th 2004


77 Comments


It sounds very interesting, I heard/saw the Svefn-G-Englar video a few years ago, but I just thought of it as some arty song, without taking the time to really take it in.
I'm d/l ing the song now for another listen with more mature ears

moderaterock222
December 24th 2004


121 Comments


The first Sigur Ros song i heard was Viorar Vel Til Loftarasa. That's a pretty amazing song. I like () better, but this is still quality.

Wanker
January 31st 2005


139 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm torn between this and () for which is superior.

I love Olsen Olsen, Hjarta hamast, Flugufrelsarinn, Starlfur, Virar vel til loftrsa, and N batter.


Sep
February 1st 2005


297 Comments


That was a great review. I have only heard Ny Batteri (which is amazing) and I'm checking out more now.

MemoryMachine
February 1st 2005


12 Comments


Its so much better than ( ). Beautiful album: 5/5

surfkauai
February 5th 2005


30 Comments


When i was downloading this album (yes, i download music) i came across a version of N Batter that definetly wasnt Sigur Ros. I'm not sure who the band covering is, but it sounds like its Thursday. does anyone know anyhing about this?

Wanker
February 5th 2005


139 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yes, it is Thursday. They did a cover of it.

I really want to hear it, but I can't find it.

woofwoofwoof
March 26th 2005


156 Comments


this album is soooo much better than ( )

analrightstart
August 31st 2005


96 Comments


This album is brilliant, up there in my favourites of all time. Svefn-g-englar is seriously one of the best songs ever written. Every song on this album is just amazing. I still like ( ) a tiny bit more though. I really like this review, you've done a good job of capturing the real feeling of the album., the whole motion thing is what makes this album so brilliant, you feel as though your floating through a wilderness not from this planet (as you have said) it surrounds you and becomes a part of you. Really is incredible stuff.

LiZeR
October 3rd 2005


49 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I just picked this up a few days ago, and I feel kinda bad for thinking that ( ) was the best Sigur Ros album... AFter listening through the whole album several times I think gtis Byrjun on a whole is slightly better than ( ). Why? Because I liked every track and I dont really have to skip anything whereas on ( ) i normally skip track 6 and 7 haha. And it doesnt' sound like a funeral haha. Each has their charms though. I dont know why, but the strings in "Starlfur" just does it for me.

Shattered_Future
October 3rd 2005


1540 Comments


Honestly, what is the big deal with this band?

It just sounds like...noise. To me, anyway.

Maybe I need to get used to it...

Good review though.

Killtacular
October 3rd 2005


1314 Comments


Maybe you're just deaf and never realized it until now.



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