A refined, crowd-pleasing, rather haunting comeback – well out of their radio-friendly days, this band still has a fight in them.
With their uber-polished, pleasantly cinematic sound, Sigur Rós is easily the most accessible post-rock act out there, a bitesize alternative to the hallowed likes of Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. That is not to say the Icelandic band plays it safe – 2013’s Kveikur marked a radical departure from the ambient eccentricity of their previous albums, incorporating darker experimental and industrial influences à la Aphex Twin and Nine Inch Nails. Predictably enough, ‘Óveður’ is more of the same, though its conservatism is to be applauded. Sigur Rós has honed its new style to a T, strategically compromising between Kveikur’s harshness and the calm meticulousness of their earlier releases.
The single is their most fragmented work to date, setting an orchestral track and Jónsi’s unintelligible falsetto vocals to blasts of sonic fury. Already a staple of the band’s live setlist, it is a difficult work to genuinely pin down – whereas even the greats of the genre demand the mere receptivity and patience of audiences, Óveður cannot be satisfied there, beckoning for us to lose ourselves amid its sci-fi-textured chaos to give over our whole emotional being to its atonal complexity. Its violence and intimacy is testing – some find Sigur Rós an exhausting, hyper-sentimental bunch, whilst diehard post-rockers are often alienated by their commercial aesthetic – but the track marks a milestone for the band, and hints at much more ambitious material to come.
‘Óveður’ is out now via XL