Middle Ground

Kveikur,there seems to be an identity crisis.

Written by Swetha Ramakrishnan | Published: August 17, 2013 5:42:52 am

Album: Kveikur

band: Sigur Ros

Music: XL Recording

Rs. 399

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When Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Ros’s new lead single Brennistienn released in March this year,amidst rumours of the band’s break up,it seemed like the members were trying to prove a point. Part of their seventh studio album,Kveikur,which released on June 18 worldwide,the eight-minute-long song was far more aggressive than what loyal followers of the band are used to. In the track,their signature minimalistic sound is replaced by a loud,hard-to-ignore cry for attention,and the music is rife with heavy bass beats and other unlikely distractions.

As an album,Kveikur isn’t entirely bad. Every song,melody or beat manages to give you goosebumps,but this isn’t the Sigur Ros that we relate to. While they maintain their fundamental position as a post-rock band,providing music that allows for an easy listening experience,what stands out,sometimes in a good way,with songs like Brennistienn,Hrafntinna and Kveikur,are the vocals. Their lullaby-like quality is replaced with noisy,fluctuating vocals that flare up in parts and fade out in some. This experiment,however,does not work with songs like Isjaki,Stormor and Var,where the music seems unnecessarily garnished with formulaic elements like fast beats,pop-sy vocals and a heavy dose of pretentious ambient sounds.

There was a time when Sigur Ros provided a win-win experience for all genres. Metal fans could laud the layers and understated aggression in their music,pop music fans could relate to their sparkling vocals and everybody unanimously loved the feel-good Hoppipolla from their fourth studio album Takk… But with Kveikur,there seems to be an identity crisis. While the name of the album translates to “candlewick”,Kveikur is a haunting kaleidoscope of songs that has you hard-pressed to decide whether you like the album or not. Sometimes,that’s not a bad place to be in.

swetha.ramakrishnan@expressindia.com

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