Album Review – Sigur Ros, Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust

3 out of 5 stars

Sigur Ros - Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum EndalaustDuring the past few years, Sigur Ros has been in its cocoon, biding its time and slowly waiting for some metamorphosis to occur. And with their new release, Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust (which in English means “With a Buzz in our Ears We Play Endlessly”), they have emerged with a glorious new sound that may alienate long-term fans but exposes the band to a whole new audience.

From the opening track, “Gobbledigook,” the change is apparent – acoustic guitars and a quick pounding drum are now the backdrop for Birgisson’s vocals. The group gets downright poppy with “Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur,” with a chiming piano keeping time with the percussion as Birgisson drops his voice an octave. They sound like – dare I say it? – Coldplay.

The album is not without its flashbacks – “Festival” hearkens to their more dream-pop roots, as does the simple, touching finale “All Alright” (their first song with English lyrics) – but it is by far their most accessible. Most songs are sung in Icelandic, but when sung at a glacial pace, with syllables spanning several measures – it’s probably still indecipherable to their fellow citizens. They also use words from their own made-up language, “Hopelandic,” which allows the music to take center stage.

Sigur Ros has mastered the art of setting a mood with not so much melody and harmony, but from their basic elements – pitch, dynamics and timbre. Now, by applying their craft to familiar pop/rock components – tempo, meter, guitar/drum combinations – they have created something special: familiar-sounding music that evokes the emotion of their older material.

It’s the perfect blend of the old Sigur Ros and the new Sigur Ros – one in which everyone should be satisfied.

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