Sigur Ros
Med sud i eyrum vid spilum endalaust


2.0
poor

Review

by Matt Wolfe EMERITUS
July 10th, 2008 | 89 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: 'With a fuzz in our ears we bore endlessly'.

When Sigur Ros first skimmed their delicately crafted stones ‘Von’ and ‘Agaetis Byrjun’ out into the instrumental ocean, the resulting ripple shocked their creators, and the world around them. Sat on the shore in disbelief, they watched as that ripple gathered enough energy to become a wave of tidal proportions. Naturally, they have ridden that wave to incredible critical and commercial success, steamrolling their way through the BBC to be featured in almost every one of its wildlife documentaries and sports coverage’s, and have done an admirable job of bridging the gap between instrumental and popular music. Credit where credit’s due, they’ve definitely made a difference in today’s music scene, provided inspiration for many uprising acts, and are arguably one of ‘the’ bands of our generation. But ever since climbing onto the crest of their wave, they have found it increasingly difficult to maintain their balance. It was not so obvious back then, but with every passing record it becomes more noticeable. 'Með Suð * Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust' seems to indicate that it can’t be too much longer before they’re hurtled headfirst into the sand, if this record hasn’t sent that wave crashing already.

The opener, ‘Gobledigook’, is odd; I don’t quite know what to make of it. The pounding drums and handclaps make sure the record is noticed, but the banal ‘la-la-la’s enter and it’s a case of slightly new versus déja vu. As desperate as they are to reinvent themselves, it's not happening, and it’s awkward to listen to them try. At least it appears they want to reinvent themselves, until the rest of the record comes and plants you firmly back in Sigur Ros land. Don’t worry, it’s all here. The initial slow passages followed by slow, sweeping journeys into the increasingly uplifting and inspirational instrumentals (trumpets and/or violins basically, with harder-bashed drums), accompanied by those Icelandic vocals that have now passed through the depiction of ‘moving’ and are content to swim in a sea of soppy sentimentality. Yep, it’s all here on… well, almost every song. And that’s the issue now; there is so little variation to their once (and probably still) respected sound that it is, sadly, becoming a gimmick. What was once a warming, touching, experimental, contemplative and ultimately fresh sound in ‘Agaetis’, has now been drugged up, exhausted, and stretched so thin that its become an over-romantic, gratuitously dramatic, tedious pile of slush that never even threatens to challenge the expectations of the listener.

Focusing simply on the record as a whole, regardless of its roots and influences, the album still falls short on a number of levels. The unwillingness to experiment with any other emotions besides ‘blossoming hope’ and ‘silver-lining sorrow’ leaves it sounding almost mechanical, and when they are so clearly striving for a purely organic sound it creates an awkward juxtaposition in its insincerity. While the lack of emotive variance may have taken away a sense of connection with the record, the scarcity of any structural or instrumental variation violently snatches away whatever fun and volatility the album could have been holding back and, as a result, leaves it stale, lifeless, and, quite simply, boring. Almost every song is structured the same, quiet beginning, gradual increase in volume and intensity, exalted, overzealous crescendo. Not a single song started intense and fell into a hushed, slow section. And the instruments, while more varied than other bands, rarely vary in what they are intended to resonate in the listener. Horns supply the happiness (with the exception on All Alright), violins provide the grief, and the piano is used as a go-between of the only two emotions present on the album. All these issues, for me, sentenced this record to a very long shelf life, destined to gather dust at the back of my collection. But the importance of the rest of their catalogue cannot be ignored as it is a major contributing factor to the production of this record, and the fact they have collected all the elements on this album from previous albums makes them all the more lazy and deserving of criticism.

I will be honest; some of this record is quite moving, almost wonderful. As predictable and perfunctory as it is, the ending of ‘Ára bátur’ is something quite special, and surprisingly is quite reserved and constrained in it’s explosion, allowing for a more tender Sigur Ros to seep through. Unfortunately, the song itself is far too long and you may aswell only listen to the last three and a half minutes, everything before it just goes back on itself. Personally, I think that's boring, especially when what's being repeated is just a trite, lifeless piano melody. ‘Góðan daginn’ slightly strays from the beaten old track, opting for the road less travelled, not reliant on a building crescendo but rather floating, weightless drums and a sparing use of violin and xylophone which ease the listener along the Sigur Ros wave on their back. Fortunately for them, the road less travelled lies parallel and right next to one with the prosaic path stamped right in, so they can easily tiptoe back into it with ‘Við spilum endalaust’ – the typical ‘inspiring’ brass sections jumping ecstatically against a solid but unimaginative drum line and self-aggrandizing vocals, all building upto an indistinctive climax which is intended to make the listener ejaculate a warm gush of blissful tears, so satisfying that it beats sex. It didn’t quite do that for me. ‘Illgresi’ doesn’t quite go for the tried-and-tested route, but does still manage to bore with an unmotivated acoustic guitar accompanying Jónsi Birgisson's falsetto squeals which heave and shove but never quite move anything. Somewhere along the road, and I don’t know how or when, but somewhere that voice lost a great amount of its power.

Bottom line: this is an overly safe, utterly predictable, and ultimately poor effort. Thanks to its lack of imagination, risk, and variation, the type of music which once had my eyes swelling with tears now leaves them rolling in frustration and embarrassment. There’s so little here that has me wanting to go back and listen again, it actually becomes draining in its lethargy and platitude. I’m not asking Sigur Ros to give it up, there are a few magical moments on this record which have me clinging to the hope that they can resurrect themselves and become the Sigur Ros I once loved. And no, I’m not asking either that they go back and do what they did with ‘Agaetis’, I’m not looking for a clone, and they seem mighty intent anyway on sticking with what they know anyway. What I’m asking is that they do have a close look at their roots, the roots which started that unusual ripple in the first place, and understand again what made them great. Once they have that foundation under their wave again, they can stand a lot steadier on that crest and begin to take a few more risks without worrying about their balancing act. Hopefully they haven’t quite yet fallen, but 'Með Suð * Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust' hasn’t given me much reason to believe they haven’t washed up among the old replica rocks already.



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user ratings (1011)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
AtavanHalen
July 10th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Why must you turn this website into a DEN OF LIES

Altmer
July 10th 2008


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

He's right. The album is boring as all fuck.

Pebster49
July 10th 2008


2993 Comments


Extremely entertaining review, I still haven't got this yet, even though I liked your review, Im probably still going to get it.

Willie
Moderator
July 10th 2008


16073 Comments


I don't know if I've read your other reviews before, but I didn't particularly like this one. The first two paragraphs are wordy, self-indulgent, and add very little to the review.
I only got this yesterday and only heard it once, and it does seem boring, but I don't really like any of their albums all that much.

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
July 10th 2008


862 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Sorry Atavan . Dfelon's negative review contest has definitely sparked a lot of controversy on this site. Definitely a good thing, but I'm hoping this doesn't get me negged into oblivion. I haven't written a negative review before, so if people want to point out what I'm doing wrong (which I have no doubt they will), that would be appreciated.

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
July 10th 2008


862 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Willie, I didn't really know about that second paragraph in the first place. I felt I should say why I've had an increasing dislike for Sigur Ros since ...Takk, and that there's an issue within all their later works, but I might take it out. And I've always had trouble with intros, I'll rework it later.

ColdDamnation
July 10th 2008


159 Comments


why else would I listen to Sigur ros than to fall asleep?? It's what they've always meant to me, nostalgia and sad dreams.

The fact that they put this out so damn quick is great... I know everyone wants to make their, "masterpiece" or some crap like it while taking 4 years to do it. But whatever happened to simply playing music that you love and then putting it together on a record??

ah ahh, they came up with some ideas in two months that arn't mind blowing and instantly classic... so crap on them.

I agree it's certainly not their best, but it's not supposed to be. I've enjoyed it very much so far...

...Yesterday I wrecked my jeep into a concrete wall while listening to Godan Daginn. I take that as it being a good song, it's deffinitely my favorite so far.
it made the wreck very surreal, detached and much more pleasant somehow, ha hahaha...whoops

ilikemusicthatsucks
July 10th 2008


1063 Comments


I agree with willie. It's evident that you know the English language and write very well, but your language is a bit too complex and wordy for a simple music review imo. I mean it isn't a work of literature or a university essay, it's just meant to give your opinion in a clean, precise way. That is my only complaint though and other than that your points are very well made and entertaining. I'm sure you will learn to show more restraint in your writing style as time goes on.

ColdDamnation
July 10th 2008


159 Comments


Man, it really is a great song. But I've learned my lesson and won't be driving to Sigur Ros in the rain anymore.

ColdDamnation
July 10th 2008


159 Comments


I'd give it a solid 3.5

foreverendeared
July 10th 2008


14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

granted this isn't as instantly gripping as their past albums, or as catchy, but i still love it

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
July 10th 2008


862 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Thanks, ilikemusicthatsucks. I guess while I was trying to give my reasoning a really solid foundation, because I knew so many people would disagree, I overshot the mark a bit and sounded pretentious. I'll try to avoid that. Negative reviews are tough.This Message Edited On 07.10.08

Willie
Moderator
July 10th 2008


16073 Comments


Willie, I didn't really know about that second paragraph in the first place. I felt I should say why I've had an increasing dislike for Sigur Ros since ...Takk, and that there's an issue within all their later works, but I might take it out. And I've always had trouble with intros, I'll rework it later.
I think you make it clear what your issue is with the band on the final three paragraphs without the use of the second one. Those are very large paragraphs and may cause some to skim them or skip the review entirely, so the removal of even one would help.

ColdDamnation
July 10th 2008


159 Comments


Hey, at least he didn't write a negative that was all swear words and ranting.
It's not like there's too many of those around here.
A bit pretentious is better than a bit mindless.

foreverendeared
July 10th 2008


14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

agreed. and i kinda wish someone who understands the lyrics would review this, cause i'm sure actually understanding it brings another whole dimension to their music

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
July 10th 2008


862 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Ok, I removed that second paragraph. It has a couple links to the rest of the review, but I think people will understand what I'm trying to say.

Willie
Moderator
July 10th 2008


16073 Comments


That really does make a big difference (IMO). Voted.

ColdDamnation
July 10th 2008


159 Comments


I still don't know which one's are the ones in English. I'm so used to just letting their music sort of... wash over me that I don't even think to listen for words that I know.


Minus The Flair
Emeritus
July 10th 2008


862 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Sweet, thanks (everyone)

foreverendeared
July 10th 2008


14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i thought Festival was in English, but if it is, you can't tell from listening to it. he must have a terribly strong accent cause i can't pick out one english word.
oh and your welcome flair



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