Review: "Valtari" - Sigur Ros

Valtari - Sigur Ros
(2012 XL)
  After nearly 20 years and five full length albums, Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Ros has released their definitive album, possibly even the greatest to come from the country which also brought us Bjork, Mum and Of Monsters and Men. Valtari (which ironically means "steamroller") is the perfect balance between Sigur Ros' experimental side and their gorgeous side. It's a dream pop masterpiece that even leans toward the ambient side and is a mesmerizing listen that will stick with you for days. This time, Sigur Ros has definitely outdone themselves. 

  To open the album, Sigur Ros wheels out a conservative choice, "Eg Anda," which wouldn't feel out of place on 2005 release Takk. After a full two minutes of Jonsi's chorus riddled ooh's and ahh's we're greeted with the clattering samples and dreamy post-rock soundscapes that the band's become known for. Even though, it's not too out of the ordinary, it would still be the best track on any of their previous albums. "Ekki mukk" is when I realized I was in for a Sigur Ros experience like no other. This time, Jonsi's falsetto is complimented only by a lush bed of strings. The result is simply jaw dropping and even gave me goosebumps.

  "Varuo" is by far the best track on the album, a delicate piano is contrasted by powerful, moving strings, then, drums are added to the mix reaching a climax that basically defines everything Sigur Ros has done since 1994. Simple adjectives can't really describe it, so you'll have to hear it for yourself. "Valtari" is another  gorgeous cut worthy of being the title track with its strings and strange samples building tension to a eerie chorus of bells. The 8th and final track, "Fjogur Piano," is a warm instrumental, driven almost solely by piano. It's a quiet escape from such a powerful album.

  It's not until now that this reviewer has realized why Jonsi decided to title his latest effort "Steamroller". Although the album is teeming with a quiet, peaceful mood, it emotionally moves the listener with such power, you'd think youd just been hit by, well, a steamroller. To date, this is the first time I've been moved to tears by an album since OUPA's 2011 debut Forget. Props to Sigur Ros, as this may well be the best album of the year so far.
(Listen to Valtari here)