MELISSA BLOCK, host:

If you think American rock bands face long odds trying to break out, consider the improbable tale of Sigur Ros. The five-piece band is from the rock 'n' roll hotbed of Iceland. It makes spacey, progressive music with lyrics that are often indecipherable even to native speakers. Still, the band has gone from playing small clubs to headlining large international rock festivals. The band's fourth studio disc is called "Takk...," which means `Thanks.' Tom Moon has a review.

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TOM MOON reporting:

Nothing in current rock can quite prepare you for the majesty of Sigur Ros.

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MOON: The themes start out sweet, like children's hymns, but they rarely stay put. Pretty soon, Sigur Ros is off in the upper atmosphere seeking the celestial.

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SIGUR ROS: (Singing in Icelandic)

MOON: The singer, Jon Thor Birgisson, sang parts of the last record in a phonetic, made-up language he called Hopelandic. This time, in an obvious grab at mainstream accessibility, he sings in plain old Icelandic.

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SIGUR ROS: (Singing in Icelandic)

MOON: Sigur Ros is obsessed with sound. Parts of this gorgeous disc were recorded in a drained indoor swimming pool. And if you get inside the droning maelstrom, individual textures emerge. There's brass bands, marching feet, a string quartet, guitars that are so abrasive and distorted they don't sound like guitars anymore.

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MOON: All these give the innocent melodies a sense of menace.

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MOON: Past Sigur Ros projects drifted along as though the band was enveloped in a thick mist; this one is sharper. It curtails some of the progressive rock meandering. It's got chord sequences and song forms that a U2 fan might recognize.

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SIGUR ROS: (Singing in Icelandic)

MOON: At times, "Takk..." sounds like Sigur Ros has just discovered anthem rock. The songs are more scripted and more disciplined than anything it's done before. The musicians have said that the songs talk about life's ordinary, everyday moments, but that's hard to believe. Nothing that has this sense of grandeur, this mysterious vastness, can be considered in any way ordinary.

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BLOCK: The new album from Sigur Ros is "Takk..." Our reviewer is Tom Moon.

And you can hear a Sigur Ros performance at our Web site as part of npr.org's live concert series.

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SIGUR ROS: (Singing in Icelandic)

ROBERT SIEGEL (Host): You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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