Key Track: “Brennisteinn,” “Hrafntinna”
Prolific and critically-acclaimed Icelandic alternative band Sigur Ros’s seventh album is a tad darker and more abrasive than their previous works, and it retains the band’s minimalistic qualities in its engrossing songs. I cannot speak to the lyrics of the album, as I know absolutely no Icelandic, but the vocals behind the lyrics fit amongst the band’s haunting music.
The band has always approached their music with a minimalist approach, consistently churning out music that builds upon itself, like a moderately more accessible Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Although they have always taken this approach, and continue to do so many years later, “Kveikur” has a slightly darker tone. The album’s opening track (and longest), “Brennisteinn,” begins with a pounding synthesizer rumble that sets the tone for what is a darker experience than the rest of their albums.
Sigur Ros have never been ones to seem comfortable with fame, and their ever-growing popularity might be a cause for the darker tone. “Kveikur” might serve as a response to all of the critics and musicians that cite Sigur Ros as inspirations and jumping-off points. The album might also be reflective of the loss of keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson, who left the band last year. This is only their second album without Sveinsson since their debut, “Von,” in 1997.
“Kveikur” is a dense album, with a lot of winding music. It requires some participation from the listener, which is deserved. Sigur Ros are getting a little darker and they expect their core audience to follow. Thankfully, they provide no reason why we shouldn’t. The album builds and builds, and totally engrosses the listener. At points, it is repetitive, but this is Sigur Ros. We should all be on-board with what they’re offering.
-By Andrew McNally