Review Summary: As just a small taste of what's to come, Brennisteinn certainly achieves its goal of whetting the appetite.
Ever since Sigur Rós took their breathtakingly beautiful, otherworldly-sounding compositions to an international stage in 1999, they have been heading towards a sound governed less by their Icelandic roots and more by their actual songwriting abilities. Whereas Ágætis Byrjun
and ( )
made strong use of the band’s foreign sensibilities, subsequent albums began to rely less on this aspect, with the songwriting taking precedence over atmosphere. Sigur Rós have not often dared to venture too far out of their comfort zone, with last year’s ambient-leaning Valtari
honing in on the more minimalist elements of their signature sound.
is any indication, all that is about to change. With the upcoming release of their seventh studio album Kveikur
later this year, Brennisteinn
points towards an overall darker and sludgier sound that the band has not channelled since the second half of 2002’s untitled masterpiece. The title track, which is also due to appear as the opener on the new album, sees Sigur Rós experimenting with harsher, more abrasive electronic elements grating over the top of Jónsi’s trademark vocals. Conflicting aspects such as these have only been used sparingly in the past but here Jónsi’s falsetto shines through the haze like a ray of light and it works brilliantly. The same can be said of “Hryggjarsúla” which sounds more like the kind of droning nightmare Michael Gira would conjure up rather than anything from the band’s back catalogue. Finally, instrumental track “Ofbirta” hearkens back to the dark ambient style of Von
, perhaps the most ominous Sigur Rós had sounded prior to this.
Although no two albums of theirs sound exactly alike, this is the first time we are really hearing something of a reinvention from the group. As just a small taste of what’s to come, Brennisteinn
certainly achieves its goal of whetting the appetite and fans will have to wait another few months before getting to hear the final product.