Review Summary: Chalk up a win for emotional positivism. Go is like getting mollywhopped by sunshine.
Jonsi Birgisson doesn’t do
sadness- not anymore, at least. Since Sigur Ros’ landmark ( )
album, Jonsi’s been riding a wave of emotional optimism, rarely touching minor keys while frolicking endlessly in a field of general merriment. At the very least, he’s pretty much abandoned the affecting weight that elevated early Sigur Ros work to “post-rock standard” status. Takk
and Með Suð i Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust
marked this shift; the dreary, glacial post rock of Agaetis Byjrun
and ( )
was eschewed in favor of bouncy, peppy indie folk, isolation substituted for joy. Similarly, Jonsi’s Riceboy Sleeps
project drowned itself in happiness, though with droning major chords and gently morphing clouds of sound instead of triumphant trumpets and tinkling glockenspiels. The degree of success regarding the last two projects varied; Riceboy Sleeps
and Með Suð
were more interesting than they were quality, if only because the sonic shift in each project didn’t quite mesh with Jonsi’s pixie-like persona. Perhaps the post-Go
hindsight helps one recognize that clash between art and artist, because unlike his recent output, Go
is something that feels like it’s exactly what Jonsi wanted it to be.
Everything about this project screams gayest thing ever
. That’s why it works. Ridiculously ornate orchestrations? Fantastic! Simple upbeat English lyrics? Endearing! That homoerotic cover? Oddly arousing! Jonsi sounds confident in what he’s putting out (one has to be to pull the kind of production bullsh
it he does here), finally embracing the unabashed joy that’s been secretly lurking beneath his quivering falsetto and lazy eye for years. His voice seems marvelously suited to symphonies, soaring over Nico Muhly’s intricate compositions. On tracks like “Boy Lilikoi,” “Go Do,” and “Around Us,” the symphonic orchestra that was questionably deployed on “Ara Batur” is brilliantly realized in a pop context. Remember how “Viva La Vida” was the greatest song ever a couple of years ago? We’re talking this kind of epic here, people. Go
is as flamboyant an album as albums come, decked to the brim with gloss and sheen in the name of happiness, hitting a peak and, for better or worse, riding it out for nine tracks of unabated fun.
This might all sound pretty ludicrous, but Jonsi’s pretty ludicrous himself. Go
simply marks the first time he’s let himself go, beating us over the head with happiness until, against all our greater instincts, we smile along with him. All Go
really requires of us is a sort of suspended disbelief to get enveloped in its eternal sunshine. I mean, that kind of suspended disbelief is necessary to not vomit back lyrics like “Get it on, get it on/ Fuck it, let's go and live/ Get it on, bring it on/ Fuck it, break out and be/ We should all be alive!” Go
doesn’t necessarily “toe the line” between nauseating and blissful per se, but it certainly has nauseating in sight. What keeps it on the blissful side is Jonsi’s unwavering commitment to the project. He sounds as if he believes
in his lyrics, delivering his over-the-top positivism with a sincerity that transcends the simplicity of what he’s actually saying.
In this way, Go
feels like Jonsi’s most fully realized work of late. He sounds more comfortable singing in English here than he did singing in Hopelandic on Sigur Ros’ last album, and the music sounds perfectly tailored to his goals. Judging from the zealousness of the record, it sounds like gleeful American pop is where Jonsi’s wanted to be for quite some time. What Go
lacks in depth- yes it really is this cheery, eat your gummi bears- it makes up for in being honest. Go
is the most candid, open look into Jonsi Birgisson we’ve ever received. Sure, it’s all kind of ear candy in that it’s basically sugary sweetness, but hey, last I checked, candy’s pretty tasty. Just let your guard down and enjoy it.