It was only last year that Sigur Rós put out Valtari, a gorgeously dreamlike, yet sedate record. Typically with the ethereal and cinematic Icelandic band we can expect a gap of a few years between albums. But now we’re already getting a new record, Kveikur, and if the first track to surface, “Brennisteinn,” is any indication, the band is apparently moving in a more aggressive direction.
Now a trio — after the departure of multi-instrumentalist Kjartan Sveinsson — Sigur Rós’ Kveikur was recorded and self-produced by band members Jón Pór Birgisson, Georg Holm and Orri Páll Dýrason. But even the loss of a member has not at all sapped any of the band’s energy. At least compared to Valtari or the joyful bursts from Jonsi’s stunning solo record, Sigur Rós is definitely playing with heavier industrial sounds — from the rumbling bass, to the thick, earth-shaking distortion to the propulsive, almost war-like drums.
Still, at nearly eight minutes, the song’s bleak darkness is folded together with Sigur Rós’ trademark soaring voices and sweeping strings creating epic-scale orchestral pop bliss. The result is one of the most exciting songs from Sigur Rós in years.