Sigur Ros
( )



by FrddyBrnRgrJhn USER (12 Reviews)
April 24th, 2006 | 16 replies

Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

There's no denying it. "World" music is currently dominated by an Americanized sound. The same standard guitar, drum, and bass lineup that was so conveniently popularized during the 20th century. Sigur Ros is no different. They're Icelandic. They have drums, vocals, guitars, bass, and keyboards. And they've been compared endlessly to British and American bands.

There is, however, something suprisingly unique about Sigur Ros, immediately evident at first listen. Whether it's the hauntingly soaring vocals, the unique sounds coming out of standard instruments, or the epic build-ups, it's hard to deny that Sigur Ros is quite the adventurous band.

( ) has been labeled as bland, boring, or "ambient for the sake of being ambient". Some fans put it one step above that and simply call it "good background music". Others will tell you it's a masterpiece playing on the heartstrings of simplicity and complexness.

It's easy to see why ( ) is such a love-hate album. The conceptual art of both the music and the package will come across as genius to some and overblown to others. The sparse package contains no words (save "sigur ros" on the front sleeve). Instead, a simple pair of parentheses mark the metaphorical aspect of the contrasting album tracks.

The album contains 8 tracks (originally deemed as "untitled") with a 30 second break in between tracks 4 and 5. According to frontman Jónsi, the division is meant to further strengthen the fine line between soft and heavy. Although both halves seem fairly ambient, there is an evident difference between tracks 1-4 and 5-8. It's clear by the conceptual aspect of ( ) that Sigur Ros deserves the status of "artsy" (or perhaps "pretentious" depending on your take).

It's not enough to describe the songs as ambiently quiet and loud, many bands have experimented into both sounds before. Sigur Ros takes ambient to a different level, one in which clear melodies are present but don't distract from the mellow tone. The vocal talents of Jónsi add a clear distinction as well. The comparisons to Thom Yorke of Radiohead are numerous, but Thom Yorke hardly ever uses his eerily high falsetto in the way Jónsi does. Also, Thom Yorke has never sung in Hopelandic, Jónsi's gibberish form of Icelandic.

Although their are clear vocals sounding coherently Icelandic to the casual listener, ( ) has no lyrics credited. Imagine if Coldplay had written hauntingly beautiful melodies but no words to accompany them, and Chris Martin was left singing incoherent gibberish. That's the english equivalent of Hopelandic (named for the Sigur Ros song "Hope" in which the language was first introduced).

It's easy to categorize Sigur Ros in the same place as Mogwai, Radiohead, and Godspeed! You Black Emperor, but the truly deep listener will simply describe them as Sigur Ros. Nothing more, nothing less. A simple band with ambitious desires, a band bridging the gap between ambient and melodic, soft and loud. Although ( ) may not be the most coherent release Sigur Ros has put out, it's undoubtedly the one in which these ambitious desires are shown to their fullest.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
April 24th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

yeah this review was kind of rushed and short, but it's hard to do justice to an album this big.

April 24th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

fair enough. if i have time later i might add some track reviews.

April 24th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

I love this album. Untitled 8 is an unbelievable song, especially the ending, it's just...huge. The only somewhat boring songs to me are Untitled 5 and 6.

Alright review, but you hardly talked about the songs at all. Also, Jonsi sounds nothing like Thom Yorke, I don't get those comparisons.

Zesty Mordant
April 24th 2006


There's no denying it. "World" music is currently dominated by an Americanized sound.

Wait, is this supposed to be a bad thing?

April 24th 2006


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

This isn't world music. At all.

April 24th 2006


He was saying that the most popular music around the world is American, not that the album is world music.

April 24th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

Pretty good review, ol' chap.

Two-Headed Boy
April 24th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

This is a quality album.

The review, on the other hand, could be a tad better. Good job, though! :thumb:

April 24th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

I love this album. It's so great to listen to when you're lying in bed thinking about things, you know.

April 24th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

yeah i realize that this album isn't world music. neurotoxin is right, i meant that most music outside of america now sounds like its american.

and yes, i personally think it's a bad thing. as much as i love modern rock music, i would prefer if the rest of the world would stop changing their culture to mimick one as bland as american culture.

April 24th 2006


Album Rating: 2.0

I think that this is possibly the most overated album on this site. I really find the music to be hit or miss and it's quite frusterating. The opening and closing tracks are simply mindblowing and demonstrate post-rock at its finest but I can't get into the mid section of the album. The first four songs and the closing track are all great stuff but Untitled 4, 5, 6, and 7 are just boring.

Good work on the review. It was a little brief but still effective.

April 24th 2006


yeah i realize that this album isn't world music. neurotoxin is right, i meant that most music outside of america now sounds like its american.

I don't think this is necessarily bad. In many ways American music is a melting pot of world music itself. Many 'American' songs are heavily Latin, European Classical, or European ballad/ballroom based. The 2 and 4 feel isn't 'American', it's simply a dominant style of music that America has made popular. So I don't think the world is changing its culture so much as simply adopting modern instruments and approaches to songwriting made popular in the last half century. This Message Edited On 04.24.06

April 24th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

i just find it slightly depressing that so many foreign bands that i check out sound exactly like incubus and whatnot. that's not to say that there arent some creative groups doing original stuff. sigur ros is one of those groups. a lot of foreign hip-hop and electronica is incredible as well. i just hate it when popular bands from other countries purposely try to sound like top 40 hard rock from america

April 24th 2006


It's a good album, but I prefer their previous one, which I thought was absolutely gorgeous.

April 25th 2006


Album Rating: 3.5

Saw a video of these guys on Kilborn and couldnt believe that it was just guitars and keyboards. These guys are so underrated...

Nice review, btw...

April 26th 2006


Hi, just stumbled onto this forum and there are some very interesting discussions going on about some great music- so I thought I'd join.

Track 8 is sublime, I have been listening to this non stop lately, but the rest of the album has not grabbed me in the same way, bar track 1 and 7 to a lesser extent.

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