Sigur Rós - ()
Jun 1, 2020 (updated Jun 1, 2020)
56
(overrated)

Unfortunately, I've never really taken to Sigur Ros's brand of post-rock, and even though I respect the band's determination and patience in constructing their songs, I honestly don't find their material to be all that compelling. Even though they are quite a unique band in appearance (as they sing in their native Icelandic and occasionally in their "made-up" language), the elements that they assemble in making their songs are not all that unique. Especially within the post-rock realm. In my opinion, their body of work leans heavily toward ambient music as their music is powerfully meditative and reflective. What sets them apart from the ambient crowd, however, is their utilization of rock elements and thus making them a post-rock band. But unlike other post-rock bands, their music isn't as progressive as Godspeed or similar acts. Contrarily with Sigur Ros, a sound is presented and explored, but not taken into other distinct phases. "()" shows the band exploring the familiar but in a significantly more relaxed approach.

(), comes directly after the success of their most widely-known album released in 1999, Agaetis Byrjun, which in comparison is a much better example of their interpretation of post-rock. Unfortunately, here, the band departed for a different sound related to soundscapes, instead of a more traditional song structure that they would subsequently return to after this album. So, in some respects, I see this as an awkward phase of growth that was necessary for the following material.

(), Consists of eight untitled tracks, all ranging close to around 6-8 minutes in length. As a complete album, the records do not complement one another, but rather seem like variations of one idea. I was questioning during my listen whether the repeat option had been turned on because it seemed as if I was experiencing the same track again. After all, they were that similar in structure. Although these tracks present a very relaxed and comfortable atmosphere, there is hardly any contrast to that atmosphere. Even when there is some contrast such as the occasional crescendo or addition of the celesta on Untitled #4, that provides some much-needed diversity, it's not necessarily the minimal amount of instruments that are the problem here, but the over usage of those instruments. The guitars are everpresent and lifeless, the rhythms of drums meander haphazardly while lead-singer Jonsi sings what seems like the same phrase presented on the first track repeatedly throughout the eight tracks. The only genuinely remarkable cut here is the final track, which gives a satisfying and long overdue crescendo created by drums that have finally gotten their act together and guitars no longer aimlessly riffing. Unfortunately, this incredible track doesn't cover up what preceded it but does give the album a strong sense of finality.

I believe a useful analogy can be equated with this album. Imagine you have just entered a helicopter and are "about" to take off. Seatbelts are strapped, passengers are situated, and the doors are shut. Suddenly excitement fills the cockpit as the blades begin to spin rapidly. The anticipation of lift-off is so close you can feel it. Moments pass, but the plane doesn't move an inch, even as the propellers are spinning maniacally. The copter never takes off. Anticipation and excitement suddenly drop as you realize that you won't be able to experience the ride.

Even with the addition of the closing track, never does the album "take off" and reach that level of the desired altitude; it may trick you into thinking so by the spinning blades, but never does the vessel become airborne.
2 Comments
Jun 1, 2020
Ya hard agree, found () to be way too passive to be enjoyable
Jun 1, 2020
I agree. Find myself struggling to maintain interest all the way through to appreciate () as a record. It's part of the reason why I've avoided it for so long.
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