Thursday, July 03, 2008

Sigur Ros, "Med Sud i Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust"

It makes perfect sense that they'd release a stunningly lush DVD that serves as their love letter to their home country of Iceland, and then realize that they'd pushed their fairytale shoegaze sound as far as it could go. There is no use trying to sound like the swirling mist rising off a glacier once you've been there, done that, and produced the career retrospective DVD as a visual aid. As career decisions go, the shift they've undergone on new album "Med Sud i Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust" might be the smartest one they've ever made -- even though, between this album and the "Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do" EP from a few years back, Sigur Ros have taken more surprising turns with their music than virtually any other band that is often accused of being a one-trick pony.

The days of the bowed guitar or anything else resembling shoegaze are gone, at least for now. Sigur Ros have crept closer in style to indie rock then I would have ever believed possible -- 2nd track "Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur" could nearly pass for Spoon, at least before the strings kick in. Toward the end, the song starts to sound like a more scaled back version of "Hollipolla" from "Takk...", but make no mistake about it, they're bringing their usual magic but are thinking big without having to sound big. On "Med Sud ...", less is more, and folk balladeering and warm-blooded tenderness has replaced standoffish epic maximalism and ten minute crying sessions.

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