In The Post #57: Jónsi – Go

By on Monday, 29th March 2010 at 12:00 pm

Hooray for Jónsi! That’s just one, simplified reaction brewing in my bones after listening to his lovely solo album this week. Upon reading a couple of weeks ago that the lead singer for Sigur Ros was set to release a solo album, I was guilty of the odd, mixed reaction of “is it going to be as good as the band’s albums?”

To my total delight and much relief, I found it to be just as spectacular. If you’re a fan of the band already, then you’re probably aware of “All Alright” (from the album with the naked people on the front cover – með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust) being the first song to be sung in English. Here, two years later, we find Jónsi Birgisson displaying his finest falsetto talents once again in English on several tracks of his recently released solo album, “Go.” This adds a special element to a very distinctive formula of creatively-produced songs. And that’s not to say the air of mystery found in Sigur Ros’s albums has disappeared. Fear not devout fans, a kaleidoscope of ambiguity is still present on this album, and the overall result is a brilliant work of art.

Among the various themes fluttering throughout, perhaps the most obvious is Jónsi’s sense of life. This is heard from the beginning, as his soaring vocals lift off with the booming of orchestral music in opening track, Go Do. The song carries an infectious arrangement that will ring in your head and remind you why you became a Sigur Ros fan in the first place. The heavy use of varied instrumentation (thanks in part to composer Nico Muhly) continues with the thunderous Animal Arthimatic, where we find the singer proclaiming, “Let’s not stop, let’s go live.” An excellent idea to behold behind a volcanic eruption of splendidly layered music slipped in among life’s pleasures of “riding bikes and making out.”

I know that I keep going back to s Jónsi’s full band here, but I think it may serve some purpose for those avid Sigur Ros fans who are hesitant about the vocalist’s debut solo album. Don’t be. You’ll find that “Hengilas” and album close “Grow Till Tall” brings the achingly familiar string arrangements that have become a staple in many of the band’s albums. Jónsi’s delicate and angelic vocals (and yes, what seems to be some crafty Icelandic ramblings can be heard with his solo work, too) shine throughout both the upbeat and mellow moments of the album. Perhaps this why maybe those who follow Sigur Ros will appreciate the singer’s debut more than those who are randomly download ethereal songs from a extraordinary vocalist hailing from Iceland and donning bird feathers.

On a personal level, as if the abovementioned ramblings didn’t give it away already, I fell in love with this latest set of tunes right off the bat. This seemingly fragile album also flexes its muscles, creating a thunderous roar of sounds that, overall, falls nothing short of excellence. Thank you, Jónsi, for reminding me why I love Sigur Ros in the first place.

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