Modern pop ditties dominate the fifth full-length album from Icleand’s iconoclastic band, bringing Sigur Ros into the modern rock realm of Arcade Fire’s “Neon Arcade” and the latest disc from Coldplay. The shorter tunes – seven clock in at less than five minutes – are spry and joyful, quite percussive and full of daylight; “Med Sud I …” is clearly a summertime album. If radio were willing to embrace “Vid Spilum Endalaust,” the realization would set in that sunshine, cool breeze and brass can transcend language barriers.
Sigur Ros, masters of shifting atmospherics over their 11-year career, continue to delve in lengthy works, though all are fused with a similar brightness. The nine-minute “Festival” reveals itself like a slow, vibrant sunrise; the equally long “Ara Batur” celebrates stillness with gently repeated piano chords and a piercing solo voice until a 70-piece orchestra and boy’s choir rise above the simple melody by adding splendor to the tranquility. Familiar terrain for the band, but there are no signs of excess; like Panda Bear’s “Bros” and Devendra Banhart’s “Seahorse” from last year, Sigur Ros demonstrates the validity of a pop tune at an inordinate length.
Instruments are more distinct than in previous efforts. Many of the tunes emphasize acoustic guitar or piano, often alone in intros and codas, and gentleness is rather pervasive throughout the disc. On “Gobbldigook,” the album’s lead-off track and most upbeat tune, they place it within a percussive bath that includes drums and sung “la-la-las.” “All Alright,” most likely the first tune they have ever performed in English, closes the album on a much slower note, concluding the lighter-than-air journey with the notion bedtime has arrived.