Catch the spirit at http://home.myspace.com/sigurros
Much like their oft-comparison Radiohead, the limelight might have passed for Sigur R??s, this biggest thing to erupt out of Iceland since that lady with the swan-dress from the Oscars. What is her name again...its on the tip of my tongue. Never mind, it will come to me. Sigur R??s - what I like about them is that they explore the ethereal end of Radiohead, leaving the wank part to Coldplay and Athlete and etc etc to handle and soar with it. In fact, they often do nothing but soar which may sound monotonous, but really, if you are a freaking condor of a band like these guys are, you'd soar and swoop constantly too.
On the long awaited Takk, they go back to the rocket to the sun approach of 2001's Ag?¶tis Byrjun instead of the exquisite mood lighting of 2004's () and I think they are all the better for it. Its not a sell out by any stretch, I think its playing to their strengths. Cloudbursting anthems like "Hopp??polla" rendered in a more listener friendly 4 minute span cut out the alienating aspect of their previous glorious work: the songs were too long and move too slow. Singer J??n ?û??r (J??nsi) Birgisson's voice is stronger than on any of their other work as well, still containing that elfin otherworldliness and his made up language he sings in, but he does so with balls on Takk.
The bass player Georg (Goggi) Holm is the real star, with his parting of the ice on sonic blasts like "Me?? Bl????nasir." But should you want to be gazing at the infinite intricate snowflake (I really should stop with the snow analogies just because they are from Iceland, but I can't help myself) then their are landscape paintings like the 8-minute "S?© Lest" to relax your mind as to float down the frozen stream. As soon as you are lulled into somnambulism, things get crunchy for a second, getting your hopes up that J??nsi's going to cut loose like some Tolkien-esque Ozzy and rock the fuck out, but in stead it segues into the dizzily delightful hit-single-if-they-ever-have-one "S?¶gl??pur." The rest of this album continues in this trajectory, and rather trying to find more metaphors like seagulls soaring blindly into frozen sun hanging over a technicolor sky, I'll just contend this is beautiful stuff.
Normally I don't review stuff from big shot labels, not because I am some pretentious anti-corporate, bullshit wannabe anarchist (which I, in fact, am), but because I am a small potatoes enough of a media force that they don't send me things, saving their hard earned money to procure hookers and blow for the review monkeys in the glossy paper magazines. But in a reverse populism move, they have the whole album up for the streaming on MySpace.com so you can listen with free abandon and view risque pictures of their 4872 super-close e-friends while the sheets of bliss wash you asunder.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com
The Review of the Year of Things #1: Jason Lewis surveys the years' great albums and noting so many, compartmentalized, as men do. So, here, albums by those so profoundly impacted by Death