Boston's Alternative Source!

[Off The Record]
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Sigur Rós

When the Icelandic band Sigur Rós performed their first New York concert last month, they were met with the type of fainting usually associated with heartthrob boy bands. Although the quartet might not boast quick-stepping dance moves or exploding stage props, they have become, in their own way, the ’N Sync of the hipster universe. After Radiohead invited them to open on their 2000 European tour, Sigur Rós became the subject of numerous magazine profiles, many year-end " Best of " lists, and a fierce record-label bidding war — even though they sing exclusively in Icelandic and an invented dialect called " Hopelandish. "

This type of media fawning is usually a sign to stay far, far away (see: Chicks on Speed), but with its woozy beauty and epic shimmer, Agaetis Byrjun — their second full-length album, getting released here a full two years after it came out in their homeland — lives up to the hype. Building grand structures of gossamer guitar lines, elegant string swells, and patient piano arpeggios, Sigur Rós conjure up images of desolate Arctic landscapes, cold moonlit nights, and melancholy mornings. Their patient and languorous brand of art rock is humanized by lead singer Jon Thor Birgisson’s misty, androgynous vocals — the sound of a tortured but idealistic soul set free to float in the æther. Sadness never sounded so good.


Issue Date: July 12 - 19, 2001