Sigur Ros
( )


2.5
average

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
March 8th, 2011 | 132 replies


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Sigur Ros’ ( ) is proof that the absence of bad music is not the equivalent of good music.

Take one moment and try to forget everything you feel about ( ). Adjectives like breathtaking, awe-inspiring, chilling, and pure have all been used to describe Sigur Ros’ most adored piece, because of the way that the album attaches to us and associates with the most emotional moments in our life. There is no denying the beauty of a record that relies on identifying with the emotions of its listeners; in fact, those of you who have read my previous reviews know that I am all about it. The gorgeous unraveling of ‘Untitled 1’, the crescendo in ‘Untitled 3’, and the epic ending to ‘Untitled 8’ all make ( ) feel like a truly brilliant album – and I think it is safe to say they have that effect on most listeners. But what lies beneath those “things” that this record makes us feel? Surely an album that is so profound and insightful must feature gorgeous, sprawling instrumental work and technically advanced songwriting. Or perhaps it possesses a soundscape so varied and distinguishable that the listener has no choice but to sink into its effortless diversity. ( ) certainly presents us with a few of these qualities, but the majority of it meanders through repetitive song structures, stagnant instrumentals, and monotonous build-ups.

Sigur Ros’ main issues come on the back end of ( ), because the first half has moments of irrefutable splendor. ‘Untitled 1’ sounds like the end of an ice age, opening with an eerie creaking noise that is reminiscent of something loosening and subsequently expanding over some sort of vast scope. Likewise, ‘Untitled 3’ captures one’s attention with the slow building intensity of its piano notes before fading out like a gentle exhale. Unfortunately, the listener is forced to endure the aimless roaming of the second track in between the aforementioned gems – a nearly eight minute long interruption that proves costly to ( )’s early sense of flow. The gibberish vocals on ‘Untitled 1’ and ‘Untitled 4’ are actually one of the album’s more pleasant surprises, as they are sung in a made up language signifying nothing yet mirroring the record’s tone quite remarkably. However, outside of the angelic Thom Yorke-like humming, even ‘Untitled 4’ feels a bit redundant. Echoing drums fill up most of the space, surrounded by reverb-drenched guitars and practically nothing else, save a brief chime-like section towards the end that rescues the song from complete futility. Worse yet, these sounds hardly ever vary in tempo or style, making ‘Untitled 4’ feel like an onslaught of the same thing, over and over again. And that is where one of ( )’s primary weaknesses become painstakingly obvious: the music throughout the whole experience progresses either too slowly to hold one’s interest, or in some cases, not at all.

The second half of ( ) serves as one giant case in point. The first eight minutes of ‘Untitled 5’ is essentially a simple drum beat away from being silence. And then, after the agonizing wait, Sigur Ros presents us with climactic cymbals, airy synthesizers, and heavier drumming that all would have been nice if they had anything to do with the extensive introduction. By the time the song has ended, one is left with the impression that it could have done without at least six of those first eight minutes; that is, if the listener is still paying attention. ‘Untitled 6’ and ‘Untitled 7’ basically follow the same template, although admittedly with slightly more promising results. Both songs are sluggish from the get-go, instrumentally unvaried, and dull in terms of tempo, which results in massive portions of ( ) sounding redundant and overlong. When these songs reach their pinnacle, they sound glorious and majestic…but the set ups preceding them feel, in some cases, entirely unnecessary. It is almost as if Sigur Ros was aiming for a time benchmark, gratuitously extending each song’s length to make the album feel more epic or more like post-rock should. As I previously stated though, there are obvious exceptions (even in the album’s muddled second half) such as ‘Untitled 8’, which rings out with a spacey atmosphere that avoids all of the album’s otherwise abundant pitfalls. Every second of the song contributes something, from the gentle acoustic picking to the shifting tempos in percussion and layered instrumental effects. With the nearly perfect vocals being used as just another instrument, ‘Untitled 8’ eventually erupts into an absolutely glorious climax that only becomes more forceful as the song closes out. Breathtaking, awe-inspiring, chilling, and pure? It certainly is…but it also provides a point of reference for what all of ( ) should have been like, sounding off like cries of failed potential for an album that could have landed among the stars.

( ) is a record with its share of amazing moments. While it contains several of the ultimate goals of post-rock – such as hair-raising climaxes and tangible atmospheres, it is also riddled with damning weaknesses like its gradual but boring song development and discord between the climaxes and their prior moments of progression. ( ) may make us feel a wide spectrum of emotions due to its quiet, contemplative nature. However from an instrumental, technical, and songwriting standpoint, the record fails to deliver a consistently good and flowing collection of songs – instead presenting us with shining moments united by nothing but dull, empty space. Thus, ( ) is an album whose title is quite fitting.



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user ratings (2304)
Chart.
4.3
superb
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Comments:Add a Comment 
letsgofishing
March 8th 2011


919 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Disagree about everything. This is the best thing Sigur Ros ever did.



but, as always, it's well written.



PS.



ha ha, that's what you get, trying to downplay this record :P

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2011


19088 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is what i get for trying to make a splash with my first big dissing of a sputnik album



edit: thanks to whoever merged this!

Digging: mewithoutYou - Pale Horses

DiceMan
March 8th 2011


7068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Spun this earlier today when I was studying...

AnotherBrick
March 8th 2011


9774 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nice review dude

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2011


19088 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Neg City.

Willie
Moderator
March 8th 2011


16258 Comments


I like post rock, but I just can't stomach these guys. If I were to rate this, it would probably be around a 2.5 -- not because I think it's average but just because I don't appreciate it.

AggravatedYeti
March 8th 2011


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I feel as though we share a lot of the same issues with this record (esp. with the second half) yet they seem to affect you a whole lot more than me.



enjoyed the read but respectfully disagree : )

pos.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2011


7516 Comments


Ah. I just can't stand most of post rock releases. Good review.

Digging: Clarence Clarity - No Now

kingjulian
March 8th 2011


1308 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Just got this album a couple weeks ago and I'm having a hard time with it. It's comforting to see a critical review because I'm just not clicking with it yet, as beautiful as it is.

Fugue
March 8th 2011


7367 Comments


Sowing you're putting us all to shame, again! I disagree with your rating but I do think this is one of Sigur Ros' weaker efforts.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2011


19088 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've been trying to click with this for years. I don't think time is the issue anymore.

Electric City
Emeritus
March 8th 2011


15744 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

convinced people with low ratings for this don't have ears. 1, 3, and 8 alone make this a 4, rest is gravy

Sanders
March 8th 2011


2394 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Great review mate. I disagree, but cracking review

AtavanHalen
March 8th 2011


17927 Comments


I didn't know you'd started a new career in Being Wrong.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2011


19088 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@EC: I agree that 1, 3, and 8 are great, and 4 also has its moments, but this thing is such a chore to follow along with. Nothing happens for so much of it...it is like Sigur Ros is playing a game of "let's see how little we can do and still have it sound good."



@atavan: Yeah, unfortunately people don't like me as much in this career path ; )

Hep Kat
March 8th 2011


17759 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lies lies lies lies lies





lies from the wolf

Digging: Leon Bridges - Coming Home

thebhoy
Emeritus
March 8th 2011


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

You kinda rewrote my review of it (but still good!) so obviously I agree.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2011


19088 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sorry if it is really samey, any similarities are purely coincidental!



With that said, I just looked over your review of this and it expresses a few things i completely agree with that i didn't even mention here.

asaf
March 8th 2011


897 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this album is boring. not dull. boring. mostly used to rock me to sleep on late quiet nights.

Blaizend
March 8th 2011


647 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

You broke my heart SS



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