Sigur Ros: Gloom And Grandiose Pummeling

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Friday's Pick

  • Song: "Festival"
  • Artist: Sigur Ros
  • CD: Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust
  • Genre: Rock
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Sigur Ros discovered playfulness in 2008, but "Festival" shows that it can still pull off portentous beauty. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

This past June, the artily adventurous Icelandic band Sigur Ros released Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust, an album surprisingly well suited to the giddy thrills of summertime. The whimsically titled opening track, "Gobbledigook," heralded a work of uncharacteristic impishness, which was refreshing coming from a group known largely for portentous austerity and inscrutability.

Of course, it's December now, and Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust has just been reissued in deluxe (read: more expensive) form. Which makes this an excellent time to revisit the disc and soak up just how terrific it remains during those times when it reverts to good old-fashioned portentous austerity and inscrutability. "Festival" may sport one of Sigur Ros' few English titles, but it's a wondrously majestic epic, as weird and sprawling and soaring as it is accessibly beautiful.

Spanning nine-plus minutes, "Festival" treads familiar structural ground, building from falsetto-fueled gloom to an ominously rumbling swell, right into a lengthy round of grandiose pummeling that'd make Godspeed You Black Emperor proud. In context, it still fits nicely within an album praised for its concision and unexpected playfulness. But as a stone-serious stand-alone piece, it's a fierce and satisfying gem, as muscular as it is graceful.

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