Review Summary: Despite having so much potential to be awesome, Riceboy Sleeps is something exasperatingly unremarkable, almost completely forgettable if it weren’t for the pang of disappointment.
There are so many things that should be awesome about Riceboy Sleeps
that it kind of blows when it’s not. First off, it’s a product of Sigur Ros frontman Jonsi Birgisson, who, along with boyfriend Alex Somers, formed the Jonsi and Alex project in 2006. Though more ambient in style, the music of the two lads is not far separated from Jonsi’s mother band’s subdued, dreamlike post rock circa ( )
. This in itself is apparent after opening track “Happiness” or the leaked teaser “Boy 1904.” Both songs are gorgeous harbingers of the album inside, arousing stirs in the pants of hip teenage boys reserved for all things Sigur Ros, prepping them for another beautiful album from their favorite gay Icelandic choir boy. And to its credit, Riceboy Sleeps
is that, if anything. But Jonsi and Alex forgot a very important thing while making their Riceboy Sleeps
album beautiful and warm and all those other superfluous adjectives. They forgot to make it interesting.
There’s no denying that Riceboy Sleeps
is a pretty record. But- and this cannot be stressed enough- it is boring
. The record constantly hints that something spectacular is about to happen, yet around “Indian Summer” or “Stokkseyri,” the creeping realization that in fact nothing
is going to happen hits, and there is more than half the album to listen to. It is maddeningly frustrating, for while otherwise drifting along in a hazy cloud of major chords and drone, there are a multitude of stray ideas that if explored a little more thoroughly could make the record fantastic. For example, the heartbreaking choir that cameos in “Atlas Song” makes for a moment of the euphoric joy that the rest of the album surely aims for, only to disappear in a slow wave of wind sounds and other ambient tricks. Many songs follow in this vein, coasting along the same chord for way too long, only to deliver the payoff melodic interest briefly at the end, and even then it is not always easy to decipher what exactly Jonsi and Alex are going for. While clearly the boys were aiming for subtlety, tracks like “Stokkseyri” and “All the Big Trees” are so subtle they simply become washed away in the slow-rolling tides of the rest of the album. The resulting whole comprised of these parts is something exasperatingly unremarkable, almost completely forgettable if it weren’t for the pang of disappointment.
isn’t quite awful; on the contrary, there is enough warmth and prettiness to give the record some value. But by the same token, it’s certainly not fantastic either, and therein lies the great problem with the whole project. It’s just there, not really saying much of anything. Even the mixed-results experiment with indie folk on the last Sigur Ros album said something about Jonsi’s willingness to expand out of the trademark “Sigur Ros sound,” but this more obvious won’t-say-failure with ambiance is just proof that Jonsi’s best material comes out of that specific sound, pigeonholing him in that genre despite his best efforts to expand. Jonsi and Alex have the foundation to make something truly special, but until they build on it, there’s really no reason to give them a second look.