Sigur Ros
Kveikur


4.5
superb

Review

by Ali CONTRIBUTOR (130 Reviews)
June 12th, 2013 | 620 replies


Release Date: 06/18/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A glorious return, but perhaps not the one we were expecting...

I honestly cannot recall an opener in recent times that's excited me as much as "Brennisteinn:" The strained, distorted build, simmering to a point where it seems set to collapse under its own weight... Those immense, molten slabs of bass, splurging through your speakers, hitting you head-on like a ton of lead bricks... That ominous, foreboding drop, leaving you swamped in violent swathes of bow guitar work... It's an introduction listeners have become accustomed to over the past few weeks, yet familiarity does nothing to dampen the formidable impact once it's set into motion. More significantly, these dense industrial shock waves essentially signal the return of the Sigur Ros we know and love; the lukewarm reception afforded to initial comeback Valtari having barely even been granted time to dissipate. It's almost as though that LP was merely a teaser - a low-key slow-burner devised to curb expectations and whet appetites ahead of the true re-emergence of one of the great bands of our time.

Of course, there's an awful lot more to Kveikur and its surprisingly brisk creation than that, but one factor which has unquestionably had an effect is the departure of multi-instrumental member Kjartan Sveinsson. Although a vital cog in the lineup which yielded Ágætis byrjun, ( ) and Takk... it couldn't be more obvious his departure has had a galvanising effect on the group - the remaining trio having audibly broken from their metaphorical shackles and embarked on adventurous new avenues both sonically and in terms of their songwriting. The end result is the type of record fans have been piping for ever since the conclusion of that golden period, not to mention one which sits comfortably alongside such unfathomable achievements. Far from the false dawn some feared, that gargantuan lead track was a surefire sign that something far bigger was brewing.

There is, however, a twist; that despite ranking among the finest curtain raisers in recent memory, "Brennisteinn" may also be one of the most misleading. Sure, there are times when Kveikur delivers on the "aggressive" promises made during its announcement - the title track for instance sounds like the dense percussive extravaganza Orri Páll Dýrason was promised when he gawped, aghast at his lack of action on Valtari - but by and large its material follows a very different route to that projected. Indeed, rather than a return to the intense gloom of Ágætis ... many speculated, this album bears far greater resemblance to the material which marked Sigur Ros' mid-00's mainstream breakthrough, along with the uplifting vivacity of Jónsi's solo work. What it all culminates in is by some way the most immediate and accessible release of the band's career, its treasures packed into a concise 48-minute runtime featuring their most pop-enamoured music to date - yes, even more so than "Hoppipolla."

Some circles still treat "pop" like a dirty word (especially the alternative ones occupied by Sigur Ros) but here these radio-friendly elements represent an unequivocal asset, contributing to a bolder, more direct sound than most of us ever thought we'd hear from the Icelanders. Perhaps the clearest evidence lies in tracks such as "Ísjaki" and "Bláþráður," both of which adapt conventional means into their distinctly unconventional template, with each providing a joyous, euphoric chorus and the latter even using elements of call and response. They're fiercely upbeat and sprinkled with optimism, yet somehow maintain that quintessential, unmistakable Sigur Ros sound, which through all this unfamiliar usage has lost none of its enveloping cinematic magnificence or gripping sense of mystique.

Perhaps this familiarity in spite of everything is above all what makes Kveikur such an easily digestible body of work. This isn't a record you need to absorb in a dark room, sleep to or invest countless hours in to appreciate. In fact, rather than demand such application, this is one which forcibly makes itself heard; one that's in equal measure ambitious and comfortable in its own skin, and above all one that's a pleasure for we mere mortals to explore. It's taken eight years and two awkward interludes to recharge their batteries, but any lingering fan frustrations will surely ebb away the moment this latest masterpiece creeps enticingly into earshot.



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Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
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The new essential Sigur Rós album....

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And in between, the loneliest horns you've ever heard......


Comments:Add a Comment 
AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
June 12th 2013


7357 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Also posted at http://www.muzikdizcovery.com/

Album's streaming at various locations, depending on where you are in the world.

I've still got a wee bit of writer's block, so any thoughts regarding the review will be much appreciated.

Also, before anyone claims this is premature or that I've rushed it out, I've had the record for more than a fortnight, and I've listened to little else in that time.

Artuma
June 12th 2013


14335 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

very good review of a very good album by a very good band. Brennisteinn and Stormur are my early favorites from this

Digging: Fleurety - Min Tid Skal Komme

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
June 12th 2013


7357 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks man. I was worried this would fall short of my expectations after seeing some of the songs played live (the best performance I've ever witnessed by a country mile), but if anything it's exceeded them.

Artuma
June 12th 2013


14335 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

they are coming to my country this year and i can't get there fucksjdksfjk. this is a big step up from Valtari

Rev
June 12th 2013


9436 Comments


i havent heard this yet but everyone i know says its magical



great review

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
June 12th 2013


7357 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm considering seeing them again in November, in a completely different type of venue. I wouldn't usually be bothered but they were so good it's difficult to resist.

I agree this is an improvement, but I liked Valtari a lot too. I get the impression it's going to be the overlooked gem in their discography.

Artuma
June 12th 2013


14335 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

for me the Sigur ranking is

Agaetis 4.5
Takk 4.5
Kveikur 4.5
( ) 4.5
med sud 4.0
Valtari 3.5
Von 2.5

Gyromania
June 12th 2013


15941 Comments


this review is SO good ali, and i don't say that too often. kudos

i'll be checking this out soon

Digging: Lantlos - .neon

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2013


16409 Comments


Excellent review Ali. I can't wait to hear this.

Digging: Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

johnnydeking29
June 12th 2013


9215 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Me neither...

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io

Crawl
June 12th 2013


1628 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Holy shit

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins on Io

toxin.
June 12th 2013


12604 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this is one hell of a review
sigur ros generally bores me but i might check this out anyways

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2013


3441 Comments


Great review man. This is more accessible and interesting than Valtari. It's also the only Sigur Ros album I got into as a whole so far. (Like toxin said, they are usually boring for me)

Digging: Mark Lanegan - Phantom Radio

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
June 12th 2013


50510 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sweet
I love Valtari though

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
June 12th 2013


7357 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks a lot guys. I wasn't too sure about the review, so I'm glad it's going down well.

treeqt.
June 12th 2013


9704 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

sigur ros generally bores me

this won't

balazs
June 12th 2013


481 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I felt the very same with the opener, Ali. And I was very glad and satisfied. Excellent review.

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
June 12th 2013


22004 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

generally find this band boring

What I heard off this didn't change much about that

Digging: Miguel - Kaleidoscope Dream

GuanoBumbershoot
June 12th 2013


1462 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This record is like the antithesis of Valtari. Valtari was fucking fantastic for what it was(great to chill to), but the immediacy and catchy vibes on Kveikur makes it a hell of a lot easier to listen to whenever.

toxin.
June 12th 2013


12604 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this won't


yeah this is a lot more immediate? i still am not a fan of the vocals but this seems to be paced much more to my personal liking



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