Sigur Ros All Ages Critic's Choice Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard

When: Wed., Sept. 24, 8 p.m. 2008

Given how consistent Sigur Ros have been about their aesthetic—dreamy, slow-building songs, billowy but densely detailed arrangements, reverberant swells of bowed electric guitar, keening falsetto vocals—their fifth album, Med Sud i Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust (XL), didn’t have to do much to break new ground. (The title translates to “With a buzz in our ears we play endlessly.”) Most of the tracks last less than five minutes, and for the first time the band sings a tune in English; there are hard-hitting, up-tempo rhythms, and occasionally you can clearly hear a strummed acoustic guitar. This is also the first record they’ve made outside Iceland: working with producer Flood, they finished the basic tracks in 11 days, not their usual run of several months, and that creates a palpable immediacy. “Gobbledigook” opens the album with a rush of stomping toms and almost giddy harmony singing that sounds a bit like Animal Collective—the most successful and radical departure for the new Sigur Ros. Elsewhere, though, the music drifts back toward their trademark sound; the overloaded “Ara Batur,” recorded with the London Sinfonietta and London Oratory boys’ choir, even teeters into bombast. Still, it’s good to see the band try a more direct approach, even just for a bit. Sold out. —Peter Margasak

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