Sigur Rós: Valtari (CD, EMI, May 2012)

Sigur Rós are one of those instantly recognizable bands. They invented a kind of melodic drone-pop which nobody has really even tried to imitate (I suppose the closest I’ve heard would be Amiina, who sometimes sound like a kind of instrumental version ― and, as Sigur Rós’s backing band, that’s not too much of a surprise). And they spent most of their career perfecting the form, getting subtly more melodic while losing none of their other-worldly beauty: 2005’s Takk… had an achingly fragile magic which tended to stop the most hardened indie fans in their tracks, and caused Oasis fans’ chins to wobble slightly (even when they’re actually singing about nosebleeds, apparently). Their next studio album was 2008’s Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, which I found a huge disappointment: it seemed to be self-indulgently kookie indie pop nonsense. The next four years saw only compilation and live releases… I like to think that they were having a careful think about what they’d done. I was hugely relieved, therefore, to hear Valtari: it is, to my ears, a proper SR record, more like Ágætis byrjun or () than anything they’ve done since. My first encounter with this was actually seeing the accompanying video project at a film festival: this opens with Ekki Múkk, which consists of a single shot of the sea, with the look of a light-damaged and fly-marked old photograph, while a boat sails slowly across the shot, several metres above the waves, inching slightly higher into the air as it goes… a perfect image for this music. It’s not going to be my favourite (which honour probably goes to 2007’s acoustic live album, Heim) but it’s just satisfying to hear them making the magic happen again.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Indie / Rock / Alternative.

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