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Norman Records have given me the absolute honour of saying a few words about the new Sigur Ros album ‘Kveikur’, perks of the job indeed. Now down to a three piece after the departure of keyboard/guitarist Kjartan Sveinsson, ‘Kveikur’ sees these Icelandic fellows entering into more darker, introspective waters. After the more uplifting, run around naked in the woods style album of ‘Við Spilum Endalaust’ and the minimal drone-a-thon of ‘Valtari’, it’s really refreshing to see Sigur Ros doing something a little unexpected, opener ‘Brennisteinn’ is almost heavy metal with its crashing bass and screeching guitar feedback, it’s not until Jonsi starts singing that you realise this is a Sigur Ros album. By the time you get to ‘Isjaki’ you’re in familiar territory, this is a real stand out track, full of epic stadium grandeur and what many would probably call it “selling out”, I just call it musical maturity.
Considering they’re down to a three piece, ‘Kveikur’ is a pretty massive sounding album, this is Sigur Ros with the amps turned up to 11, it has a real “rock” approach to it, big guitars, big drums and less emphasis on the strings and twinkles of previous SR albums, the title track is a full on assault to the ears, distorted bass and rumbling tom-toms and Jonsi even drops the falsetto for this song. The majesty is still there but this is a much more straightforward rock band scenario, I can almost guarantee this album will sound amazing in a live setting but still sound great at home or on the headphones with the volume turned up. Sigur Ros are still making superb albums and they do seem to come up with something that people aren’t quite expecting, ‘Kveikur’ is definitely that, this is Sigur Ros letting off a bit of steam but still staying close to their art, a rock album with just a little sprinkling of Icelandic magic.
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