Mar 18, 2010 Issue #30 - Winter 2010 - Vampire Weekend
The thing about Sigur Rós: It sounds like nothing you've ever heard before. The thing about Sigur Rós bandleader Jónsi's solo album: It sounds like Sigur Rós... only stronger. Originally conceived as an acoustic outing, the project blossomed into a melodramatic cinema-scope soundscape-thanks, in no small part, to composer Nico Muhly's (Grizzly Bear, Antony & the Johnstons, Björk) dense orchestration. Despite fostering a desire to discuss the album in terms of woodland creatures and slow motion sunsets, we are all the better for art this powerful and moving.
Without falling into retread, Jónsi has managed to maintain his main project's original appeal. Even casual listens reveal that "Grow Till Tall" has more than a bit of Ágætis Byrjun in its pedigree. "Tornado" sounds like a stripped-down track from Takk... while album closer "Hengilis" could pass as a () B-side with vocals.
However, while Go could easily sit on the same shelf as any Sigur Rós creation, it feels set apart. With his regular co-conspirators on break, Jónsi has fearlessly followed his muse, crafting songs filled with brighter colors and more accessible emotions. This isn't music solely aimed at the gnomes of his native Iceland; this is music for the people. From the joyfully percussive opener "Go Do" to the foreboding "Kolnidur," to "Boy Lilikoi"s desperate longing for transcendence, Go is waiting to retroactively score your most intensely held memories. Nearly three-quarters of the album is in English (should you be the kind of person who requires understandable words in your personal themes)-but with lyrics delivered with Jónsi's child-like wonderment, linguistics scarcely factor in. The notable exception to this is "Animal Arithmetic," whose rapid-fire list of daily rituals highlight near ecclesiastical bliss in the mundane. A remarkable accomplishment on nearly every level, Jónsi has made an album that doesn't just illuminate, but also elevates. (www.jonsi.com)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 9/10