Sigur Ros
Med sud i eyrum vid spilum endalaust


5.0
classic

Review

by David James Young USER (181 Reviews)
June 13th, 2008 | 78 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Life is beautiful. And here is the proof.

The music of Sigur Ros is a peculiar thing. It is undoubtedly one of the more polarising and distinct sounds out there, especially when one analyses the sum of the parts. They are an Icelandic quartet that features a singer that sings only in his native tongue and a scat-like language known as Hopelandic, guitar (often bowed in a Jimmy Page-like fashion) and piano that ranges from intricate and quiet movements to ocean-like crashes; and, on the occasion, orchestration with immense, rich tones that accentuate the music’s breathtaking atmosphere.

In spite of their overt defiance of format and similarity, the band has soared from Scandinavian obscurity to successes that topple a number of more radio-friendly pop and rock acts. Songs from the band’s catalogue has been used throughout mainstream media such as FIFA and the BBC. Their live performances have been known to cause euphoria, with reports of people even bursting into tears during songs. Each of the band’s releases thus far- 1997’s Von, 1999’s Ágætis byrjun, 2002’s ( ) and 2005’s Takk…- has seen a rise in both devoted fan base and critical acclaim.

By taking this into context, it is plain to see Sigur Ros as a band with nothing to prove. With this in mind, the band’s fifth album is a glorious set. Not only do we find the Sigur Ros collective in their creative prime, we find a bold statement in modern music- a soundtrack to a day in the life of a conceived utopia that, at this point, resides light years beyond any other album released in the current year.

The tongue-twister title, Með suð i eyrum við spilum endalaust, roughly translates to “With a buzz in our ears, we play endlessly”. Herein lies not only the mission statement of the band themselves at this stage- to continue on with creating music solely out of the love for it- but also the album itself. The record creates the idea of a celebration of life and the planet, a creation from the foundation of a true, unquestionable love of the concept and possibilities of music. The album, in turn, differs significantly from where we last left the band in Takk… by establishing a much more free-form and organic sound. Með suð… sees the band take the surprise move of choosing to mostly circumvent surrounding their music with washes of fantastical mystique or unsubtle grandiose, an aspect of the music Takk… was especially guilty of. This time around, the Icelanders have stripped down their sound significantly, in turn creating a sound that is very intimate and starkly powerful. The album traces folk and jazz roots right down to the organic instrumentation- there is scarcely an electric guitar in sight, focusing primarily on piano and acoustic guitar at the songs’ cores. It’s almost as if this is the closest to Sigur Ros we as listeners have ever been- and it’s invariably a liberating feeling, especially upon first listen.

The album plays out as a start-to-finish journey, confidently and powerfully ranging from acoustic-based intimacies (“Illgresi”) to hard-hitting spectacles of intensely built-up yet delicately layered arrangements (the glorious movement of “Festival”). The two opening tracks present the listener with a band that is freely experimenting and testing new ground, in this case with brilliant results. The sweetly euphoric opener “Gobbeldigook” is a pain to describe using purely words, but if Radiohead created music for a tribal dance around a fire, after listening to nothing but Animal Collective, chances are one would be close to establishing its sound by listening to this song. Its successor, “Inni mér syngur vitleysingur”, is a wondrous up-tempo parade of ringing bass, chiming piano, incessant drums and heavenly vocal harmony. These tracks notably evolve and advance aspects of sound in Sigur Ros’ work that were either all too fleeting or inexistent in the band’s previous works.

Elsewhere, “Við spilum endalaust” flaunts a stylish indie rock demeanour, coming across as a unique blend of Death Cab for Cutie’s “Your Heart is An Empty Room” and the later half of The National’s “Fake Empire”. At the other end of the musical and emotional spectrum, “Fljótavik” depicts a torn, mentally exhausted human being alone at a piano, accompanied only by a distorted recording of strings, presenting a ballad of pure, unrestrained emotion. The undisputed highlight, however, comes in the form of “Ára bátur”, Icelandic for “rowing boat”. The album’s journey is personified and showcased over a breathtaking nine-minute composition that soars from lone piano to the mammoth sounds of a 64-piece orchestra, a pitch-perfect boys’ choir and glorious falsetto lead vocals. The culmination of all of these near the end of the song is, for want of a better phrase, completely and utterly epic. It is certainly difficult just how to describe it any other way, as it builds up to an elated wash of sound that puts many movie scores to absolute shame.

Now more than ever, vocalist Jonsi Birgisson is in truly exceptional form, effortlessly swaying from piercing falsetto to a low-key whisper in a fashion similar to Thom Yorke. Even after ten years making music, Birgisson still maintains one of the most distinct and powerful voices in music today, with a delivery that thrives on contrast, intensity and raw, impassioned beauty. One does not even need to under stand the language in which the language is sung (even when this is possible, for the first time ever, on the penetratingly introspective closer “All Alright”), for the language of music, combined with the brilliant display of emotions through the vocals, is indeed universal. His fellow musicians, bassist Georg Hólm, multi-instrumentalist Kjartan Sveinsson and drummer Orri Páll Dýrason, once again paint a thoroughly detailed and beautifully arranged backdrop, emphasised further by the simply unimpeachable horns and strings. Not a single foot is placed even slightly out of line here in terms of the music itself- certainly an impeccable feat considering there’s not a solo in sight.

What we have here is a very, very important album. Með suð i eyrum við spilum endalaust, if time serves it well, will be remembered in years to come as an exploration of the depths of experimental, progressive, alternative and, most of all, original music of this time.
Big calls? Certainly.
Hyperbole? Subjective, but a certain possibility to any reader of what has just been written.
But shall this all prove to be true? There is only one way to find out.
Press play. Stop what you are doing at the time. Take the time to listen. Once, then again, and as many times as needs be after this.
Listen.
Believe.

STREAMS:
OFFICIAL SIGUR ROS DOT WIDGET: http://www.sigur-ros.co.uk/band/disco/medsud-dot.php
LAST.FM STREAMING:
http://www.last.fm/music/Sigur+Ros/
(follow the link to the album page)




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user ratings (1014)
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3.8
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Minus The Flair
Emeritus
June 13th 2008


862 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Some excellent writing here. I'm not really a fan of Sigur Ros, but this review has convinced me to check it out, seems like I would like this more than their other albums. Last lines are a bit cheesy, great work nonetheless.

sgrevs
June 13th 2008


698 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Really good review. This album is soooo good, could well top Agaetis as my favourite. Amazing stuff.

Killed4less
June 13th 2008


328 Comments


How long has this been streaming, for like three days?

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
June 13th 2008


4927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's been leaked for about a week or so.

beans
June 13th 2008


2332 Comments


really good review
im looking forward to this, even though all i've heard from this band are their two most recent releases i've really enjoyed what i heard from them.

Neoteric
June 13th 2008


3243 Comments


can't wait to see your rating go down in a week or two

HighandDriving
June 13th 2008


3288 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Dun Dun DUUUN.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
June 13th 2008


4927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

can't wait to see your rating go down in a week or two

I don't know man, this album is pretty spectacular.

Mendigo
June 13th 2008


2299 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

still haven't even listened to this completely, but I'm definitely going to get it.
how did you get the title to work? so if it does work, someone in charge could also try repairing the Ágaetis Byrjun title.
btw, the review is great, but who the fuck has negged it?

Oblivioncry
June 13th 2008


601 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

really nice review.

i was wonderin why noone has reviewed this, but coldplay already has 4 reviews.

coz this album is by far the best release this year!


Neoteric
June 13th 2008


3243 Comments


I don't know man, this album is pretty spectacular.
yeah i'm going to listen to it soon

just can't imagine it as a 5/5


Ampersand
June 13th 2008


111 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^^^^ Definitely what I was thinking Oblivioncry.

Excellent review and I despise whoever negged this. What makes Sigur Ros so good is because, for me at least, it's SO enjoyable and a different experience every time. Another thing that I like is the fan base of this band isn't like that of other genres (I'm looking at you metal community) as the music is really all about change and stretching the limits of their music.This Message Edited On 06.13.08

Iai
Emeritus
June 13th 2008


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I haven't finished listening to this yet or formed a solid opinion but the first track is really bad. I've got up to "Festival" and everything else up to that is good, but the first track really put me off.

JumpTheF**kUp
June 13th 2008


2713 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album is fucking ace, but a 5 is kind of overzealous, especially for an album that's been out for a week.

Ampersand
June 13th 2008


111 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

To Iai,

Wow, I find Gobbledigook one of the stronger tracks and probably the best opening song from Sigur Ros since "Untitled 1 - Vaka" from "( )"

Willie
Moderator
June 13th 2008


16117 Comments


Excellent review and I despise whoever negged this.
I agree. This Message Edited On 06.13.08

Digging: Kenn Nardi - Dancing With the Past

Attention Whore
June 13th 2008


42 Comments


I actually don't dig this...=(

But good review anyway

plane
Staff Reviewer
June 13th 2008


6099 Comments


Yeah I'm still going to review this, but I'm gonna wait till closer to the release date so I actually feel like it sunk in instead of trying to get it out before everyone else.

cfbassist
June 13th 2008


331 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i think this album is great, not a 5 yet as time i think is necessary for an album to be a five, but a strong 4.9 right now ahah

ara batur sounds good nomatter how bad the headphones/speakers are!

psilocybin
June 13th 2008


74 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I enjoyed your review, but I think your rating is a bit hasty. The album has not been out long enough to be classic, regardless of whether you think the material is that good or not.

I've listened to it a few times and I think it's worse than Takk, which doesn't make it bad by any means. Just a tad boring.

They will not make another () or Agaetis. And this is proof of that.



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