Sigur RosI have a soft spot in my heart for Icelandic band Sigur Rós (pronounced see-gur rose). I was listening to their second album Ágætis Byrjun frequently when my wife was pregnant with our first child. We used to watch ultrasound videos with it playing along as a soundtrack (highly recommended). It was playing in the delivery room when my son was born

Their third album, (), was equally hypnotic and majestic. I saw them live on that tour and it was one of the most memorable and peculiar experiences I’ve ever had at a show. I didn’t quite go to sleep, but I was in a deep trance. I felt like I was half dreaming, flying a little bit, with no sense of time passing. Singer Jón Þór “Jónsi” Birgisson is this stick thin, hunched, eerily lit apparition, singing incomprehensible “hopleandic” lyrics in the voice of an angel, and the music around him is incredibly, thunderously loud. It’s probably the closest thing I’ve had to a religious experience without drugs (OK, not entirely, but no weed is that good).

Anyway, it was three years before another album, and Takk … never really grabbed me. I kind of forgot about them.

On Monday, another three years later, comes Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust. I haven’t listened to it enough yet, but at first blush it sounds like something of a departure. The songs are shorter (less than seven minutes!), looser, more acoustic, dare I say … happier? They certainly look happy in their new video:

 

(If you want to see the version with actual scrawny Icelanders running around naked in the woods, you can at their website.)

Here’s the most old-school song on the album (nine minutes baby!): “Festival.”