Sigur Rós – Valtari album review

“I really can’t remember why we started this record, I no longer know what we were trying to do back then. I do know session after session went pear-shaped, we lost focus and almost gave up…did give up for a while. but then something happened and form started to emerge, and now I can honestly say that it’s the only sigur rós record I have listened to for pleasure in my own house after we’ve finished it.” – georg

Sigur Rós’ newest album is characteristically awash with dove grays and soaring vocals. “Valtari” is Icelandic for “steamroller,” and the album does slowly roll along. It ranges from icily pristine to darkly murky but always remains underwater. Some songs are spacious and minimalist, others are faded and billowing. Everything is deliberate and elegant, an intricate deluge of rushing sound.

As experimental as this ambient Scandinavian hypnosis tape may seem, it’s firmly rooted in pop aesthetics. Valtari just shuffles around the supernatural beauty Sigur Ros cultivated on their first four albums. The changes are in slow motion though rather predictable and formulaic. Their signature eccentricity is preserved by way of the nonsensical lyrics, but the quirks need to multiply to stay interesting.

Valtari is good if you’re trying to fall asleep or mellow out and do some yoga. it’s too engaging to listen to while you’re reading. At the same time, it isn’t engaging enough to listen to on it’s own unless you’re a hardcore Sigur Ros fan with lots of patience. There isn’t much to distinguish Valtari from their earlier albums. It’s very pretty and Jónsi’s voice is quite lovely, but there isn’t any innovation.