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Jónsi – Go April 14, 2010

Posted by gwyoung in Album Reviews, Music.
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Artist: Jónsi

Album: Go

Release: Parlophone, 2010

Genre: Electronica

RIYD: Sigur Rós’ “Gobbledigook”, Animal Collective

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Remember how exciting it was, back in 2008, when Sigur Rós released the first single, “Gobbledigook,” from their newest album and it didn’t sound at all like Sigur Rós? The single showed the band moving in a forward direction, finally changing up their tried-and-true post-rock style to offer something fresh and innovative instead of just another nine-minute track using their same made-up language as an instrument, again. Unfortunately, this new sound was short-lived and confined to just the first four tracks of that album, and it soon faded away into more of the same lengthy atmospheric pop: still good, but sort of a letdown after the glimpse at what could have been.

Well, good news. Despite being the first album to follow the even duller Riceboy Sleeps ambient project, Jónsi’s first solo record steps in exactly where “Gobbledigook” left off. Its nine tracks manage to capture the sense of energy, enthusiasm, and youth that was essential to that track, but perhaps even moreso in its spastic bursts of pure pleasure and joy. Four of the nine can actually be considered “upbeat,” which is a rare novelty in the world of Sigur Rós, and even the more reserved tracks have a lot more going on than we’re used to. It’s a treat to hear Jónsi’s voice in an entirely different context, and he even sings in English for most of the songs, finally offering more testament to his lyrical prowess for those of us who don’t speak Icelandic. Though some of the words are hard to decipher due to his unique falsetto, those that are intelligible fit the music extraordinarily well with their simple yet uplifting themes. In fact, opener “Go Do” may be the most uplifting song I’ve ever heard (and is coincidentally great for starting a workout), while follow-up “Animal Arithmetic” keeps pace with the frolicking beat by offering up a list of simple pleasures like “riding bikes” and “making out.”

Surprisingly, this sentiment doesn’t fade from the album, even in its slower tracks like the beautiful “Tornado” and “Grow Till Tall.” Go finds Jónsi experimenting a lot with his voice, providing cut-up samples of himself as electronic embellishments to the already well-constructed melodies, and these keep it fresh and exciting the whole way through. Each play through the record still has me overcome with emotion, 20+ listens later, and its coincident release with the emergence of spring from a long, cold winter only adds to its effect. Get a copy of this album and go outside on a sunny day and you’ll see what I mean: the warm sun and refreshing breeze echo the bright electronics and propulsive, jungle-like rhythm of the album. It’s nice to have something genuinely new from Sigur Rós, even if it isn’t actually the full band, and it’s come just in time.

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