Sigur Ros
Valtari


2.5
average

Review

by Elijah K. STAFF
May 18th, 2012 | 73 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Not the "roller" its name suggests.

The ethereal and moving music of Sigur Ros has been, and will probably always be a magnet for every music lover’s robust and contrived set of adjectives; a catch all for every grandiose and bloated statement that wishes to describe the monumental beauty of the Icelandic group. And in a sense, it’s easy to understand why we as music listeners love to emulate in words what Sigur Ros does so well with its music. For years the band has been creating music on its own terms, as it constantly retains its status as a game changer, not only in its respect genre but on the music landscape as a whole. Combining sublime instrumentation with Jónsi Birgisson's achingly pretty vocals, the quartet has a sound all its own despite being the inspiration to countless others. That is why after 2008’s Með suð * eyrum við spilum endalaust, a hiatus left many disheartened at the loss of a truly original musical force. Yet Sigur Ros has returned, a mere four years later, with promise of Valtari being a stripped down and personal affair. With this move, the band has both solidified its unshakeable status as one of the most gorgeous groups out there, but also, it has lost a bit of itself in the process.

Valtari, the heavily touted return of Sigur Ros, enters less triumphantly and more ambivalently then one might hope. This is not the bold statement of revolutionaries, but rather, a quite murmur from a band that’s forgotten what made them who they are. Valtari, despite its gorgeous and serene make-up, is insubstantial to the point that one may fear that it will cave in on itself. In its 54 minutes, nary a moment feels used particularly well. The ebb and flow of the increased ambience makes for a relaxing listen, but it lacks any sort of intrigue. And this is the record’s most profound failing: it is void of any passion or emotion. Sure, just about each track is a lovingly produced and pretty outing, but there isn’t that underlying intensity that has become the band’s trademark. Minimalism can speak profoundly, and at times, even surpass the most grand and bold works. However, without that intrinsic and raw emotive quality, Valtari merely exists as a pretty novelty.

Another area where Valtari misses the mark is in terms of songwriting. Aside from a few selections, the glut of the record is perplexingly forgettable. It feels like ( ) sans the jaw dropping moments that album was filled to the brim with. This is exacerbated but a very homogenous track list with many sections feeling like filler. This all comes to a head with the title track. One has to wonder who was pulling the strings when deciding to make “Valtari” anchor the latter half of the record, as it feels very much like an eight minute piece of filler. Strange sounds give way to ambience, with little transitioning to break up the monotony. However, a few songs, most notably “Varúð” and “Varðeldur,” happen to get it just right. The former feels very much like a standard Sigur Ros track, while the latter sounds like the perfect example of what the band was most likely attempting with this record. Amongst the rest, both songs stand out as the record’s absolute best.

As stated previously, Sigur Ros’ sixth proper record isn’t a complete bust. What it lacks in substance it makes up for with style. Production in and of itself is stunning. Each instrument rings clear and the added electronic influence is truly something to admire. The entire record has a very warm feeling to it; an enveloping quality that draws the listener in. Simplistic piano keys dance around ambient timbre, and one cannot help but feel relaxed and entranced. Sure, it’s mostly fluff, but it is also works well considering. As a light listen, the album exceeds.

Valtari is a beautiful record, which in itself is reason to be pleased with the return of one of the world’s most beloved bands. Yet this return comes with some baggage, as the legendary act who blessed us with some of the most complex and intriguing music of our time isn’t the same band here. Valtari isn’t merely weak in comparison to what came before it"it’s simply an insubstantial and forgettable record overall. So sit down, listen, and be carried away. Just don’t expect to be pleased with the destination.



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user ratings (702)
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Athom
Emeritus
May 17th 2012


17240 Comments


The only edit that needs to be made is that fucking rating

Athom
Emeritus
May 17th 2012


17240 Comments


It's the album I wanted Sigur Ros to make after Takk. Plus I listen to a lot of ambient now and I find the atmosphere absolutely haunting on this album. It's not an upfront listen but I'm not gonna fault it for what it's not when what it is is gorgeous.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2012


4472 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I havent listened to these guys in so long. I will definitely be sure to check this out.

Athom
Emeritus
May 17th 2012


17240 Comments


I don't think the word stunning describes anything on ( ).

Rev
May 17th 2012


9511 Comments


the stream starts in 10 minutes for me, but I have a feeling I'll enjoy it a bit more than you


great review, as always man. have a pos

Digging: Slime Girls - YUMEMI/LONELY PLANET GIRL

eternium
May 17th 2012


16352 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I knew someone was going to post a review after the stream. Didn't think it'd be a low rating.



You suck.

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
May 17th 2012


51437 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

oh boy

Digging: Main Attrakionz - 808s & Dark Grapes III

Athom
Emeritus
May 17th 2012


17240 Comments


I love ( ). I think I have it at a 4.5. I just don't think "stunning" is a word that should be used when its such an introspective and submersive listen.

Athom
Emeritus
May 17th 2012


17240 Comments


I had dibs on this but gave em up. Not enough time and I'm already backed up on shit to review.

Rev
May 17th 2012


9511 Comments


Apparently the stream isn't working for me :/

eternium
May 17th 2012


16352 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I agree that this album is basically ( ) without the orgasmic parts but I feel this one has a different purpose, as it should. Sigur Ros don't make the same album twice.

Rev
May 17th 2012


9511 Comments


working now


seems pretty cool so far

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2012


19073 Comments


great review, pos

Digging: mewithoutYou - Pale Horses

Anthracks
May 17th 2012


4032 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

definitely their most atmospheric yo

wabbit
May 17th 2012


7057 Comments


brilliant album. Probably aoty so far

Athom
Emeritus
May 17th 2012


17240 Comments


^it's up there.

KeithStone582
May 17th 2012


1503 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

hopeful.

Eko
May 17th 2012


2119 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

so who has dibs then?



question: is it worth $27 for the vinyl?

poorzack
May 17th 2012


80 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

beautiful album. enjoyed it.

Storm In A Teacup
May 17th 2012


13615 Comments


gorgeous



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