Review Summary: A sublime, passionate template for every important moment in your life.
We've all known moments where it was difficult to know whether to laugh or cry, overwhelming pockets of emotion where no reaction seemed to do the weight of a realisation justice. It's like the twinge you get when you remember unequivocally happy and pure moments from years ago, and you're not sure how to respond. The proper thing to do is to dust yourself off and remember that life happens from here onwards, and the rest of it has already gone. But there's something incredible about those moments of inevitable nostalgia, something pure, and we all recognise the feeling in the pit of our stomachs, try as we might to ignore it.
With the duality of those moments as its fulcrum, ( )
is that feeling in all its potency for 71 whole minutes. The first four of its untitled tracks are intended to reflect happiness, and the latter four sadness, but there is far more to this record than a division so simple or crude. What ( )
does is to provide, eight times over, a beautiful template which evokes gut-level emotions that can in turn be tied to images and memories. Take Jonsi Birgisson's famous angelic vocals as an example of this; the frontman sings in Hopelandic, an invented language which somehow manages to draw a profound response despite only harbouring whatever meaning the listener projects onto it.
is like this at every turn; 'Untitled 3' is painfully hopeful, 'Untitled 8' is mournful but liberated, and these conflicts occur throughout. There is nothing to hang onto except the rhythms and transcendent melodies, so the only option is to allow the gorgeous, passionate soundscapes to take their toll however comes naturally. Few of the movements here are hugely complicated, but they are nevertheless orchestrated with such instinct and spirited freedom that they feel dizzying even when they crawl; even the ambience is enthralling, not just padding for the passages with more friction to offer. But perhaps the most impressive thing is that even as 'Untitled 8' crescendos, not a single note feels suffocated. Birgisson is stood in his native Iceland surrounded by air and silence and nothing can rush him or shake him.
is a record which needs to be engaged with in order for it to succeed, because despite its pretentious premises, it's gentle and unassuming. It's also devastatingly simple. Most of its heartstopping moments comprise one stunning idea, surrounded by a majestic sea of supporting instrumentation. All of these things make it arguably the most honest record ever written; there is not a moment which passes between the opening crackled keyboard of 'Untitled 1' through to the last cymbal crash of 'Untitled 8' where it feels like Sigur Ros are playing with anything other than their hearts. Their genius communicates that sincerity flawlessly, and the result is an album whose depth of emotion is capable of defining every important moment in your life, both joyful and solemn. If ( )
has a point it's that happiness and sadness are actually two sides of the same coin, and in that case, Sigur Ros are the richest band in the world.