Sigur Ros Valtari as reviewed in The Phantom Tollbooth.Music that will warm your soul even on a cold night.

Title: Valtari
Artist: Sigur Rós
Label: XL Recordings
Time: 8 Tacks/54:16 mins

March 22nd brought us a new release from Sigur Rós the enigmatic band from Iceland. Every time this band releases an album you get mostly reviews hyperbolically comparing their music to some mystical experience where the listener is floating on water or being transported to some euphoric existential place. Or you get reviews lamenting that the new album is not like the last one. A band like Sigur Rós who consistently elude genre classification have to walk a fine line between repeating the same formula that their fans love while at the same time expanding that formula to stay fresh and relevant. With Valtari they have managed to do both.

This album is definitely different from their previous albums depending on your taste that could be good or bad. Upon first listen of the album it sounded flat, lacking any propulsion. It felt like the music was just meandering trying to find itself. Their signature slow burn builds up to a sonic cathartic explosion (which they are masters of) only appears once on the whole album, in the song "Varúð." Lead singer Jonsí uses the band's made up Hopelandic language which hasn't been used since their 2002 album ( ). Half the album has no vocals and the songs themselves are not written in the tradition chorus versus chorus format, in fact these songs only have melodies.

With all that being said this is a phenomenal album. Sigur Rós have once again managed to create a sound truly unlike any other band around today while at the same time allowing first time listeners to be able to feel the beauty of their music. That really is what this album is all about, beauty. Like all the previous releases by this band, Valtari was written to be listened to in its entirety. For fans of Jonsí & Company's pervious work you will love this album (think of a cross between ( ) and Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust). For those who have never listened to this band do yourself a favor and pick this album up. It's a great introduction to this resplendent band. Let the enormity of the subtle sounds wash over you like cool, cool waves. Trying to describe what Sigur Rós sounds like is impossible but I will try with one word, beatific.

5 tocks. 5 clocks (can I give it 6?)

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