The Best Albums of 2012…So Far :: Part 4 of 6 (in no specific order, by the way)
Sigur Ros - Valtari
Pros: It’s Sigur Ros. If you honestly need any coercing beyond that, Valtari takes the band’s trademark formula of otherworldly ambience, string sections on top of already-beautiful instrumentation, and Jonsi’s magnificent falsetto fluttering in between Icelandic mumblings and the language of aliens…and somehow makes it better. Case in point: “Varúð” is the meeting of the band’s louder, more straightforward material with pure ecstasy at the hands of Jonsi and a children’s choir. Then there’s the triple shot of “Rembihnútur” (playing above), “Dauðalogn”, and “Varðeldur”, which is easily three of Sigur Ros’ finest works and the best listening experience I’ve had so far this year. Jonsi’s vocals soar into new levels of “how is that falsetto even possible?”, the band’s careful attention to atmosphere and making cacophony sound gorgeous is at its strongest, and it’s all the indication I need to know this is one of the hardest working and most game-changing bands in the popular music world today.
Cons: After a two year break, Valtari is a much more subdued affair than the band’s previous album, the upbeat Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust. Some will call this album out for Sigur Ros doing what they do best without evolving their formula too much. To me, I really have no issue with that because this band’s sound is refreshingly different from most post-rock/ambient music, never mind popular music in general. For old Sigur Ros fans, this album feels like an old friend coming home again, albeit one that leaves almost too soon regardless of the album’s plenty-lengthy 55 minutes. For new fans though, this is a perfect example of the sound of Sigur Ros and one of the best post-rock/ambient albums that will come out this year. If you like what Sigur Ros has done in the past, you’ll likely enjoy this album. If you’ve never found the band to be all that accessible, this album won’t do you any favors. It’s Sigur Ros though…you really have to try and hate this band.
Recommended Tracks:If I have to pick, the aforementioned “Rembihnútur”, “Dauðalogn”, and “Varðeldur”. If I have to be honest, find a free hour and listen to this album in full as it deserves to be heard.
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