Sigur Ros – Meo Suo I Eyrum Vio Spilum Endalaust

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As catchy album titles go, this one isn’t up there. Do not adjust your eyes though – we haven’t sat on our keyboard. Rather, it’s in Icelandic, and translated the long list of letters actually mean ‘With A Buzz In Our Ears We Play Endlessly’. After listening to this album, I’d be happy if Sigur Ròs did just that. Their music is bewitching, beguiling and broodingly beautiful…

Sigur Ròs are made up of four Icelandic parts and the instruments this quartet play goes some way to describing their sound: as well as the usual drums, guitar and keyboards, there’s also glockenspiel, harmonica, oboe, banjo and tin whistle. Britney it ain’t. Meo Suo… is their fifth studio album and it follows on in the same vein that fans of the group have become accustomed to: sweeping, ethereal tracks, music that’s uplifting, soothing, grand and often out-of-this-world. Listening to their sprawling sound, your brain struggles to clamber up the epicness of it all. If you’re new to them, Sigur Ròs are indescribable and like nothing you’ve ever heard before…

The quartet’s music is said to be inspired by Iceland (the country, not the purveyor of frozen foods). Apparently, looking at its spectacular scenery and breathing in all that fresh air leads the more musically minded to conjure up orchestral, dreamy and meanderingly brilliant tunes, commit them to shiny discs and add a spot of falsetto warbling into the bargain. Press play on your MP3 player and what floods your ears will be inspiring, chilled and haunting. The over-riding theme with this album is that it sounds like they all had a riot making it.

First single Gobbledigook sets the tone, a shot of sunshine with playful vocals and drumming overload. The second track carries on the theme, with Icelandic vocals swirling around your brain, percussion and pluckable instruments to the fore: Sigur Ròs used a string quartet on the album, along with a five-piece brass section. But why stop there? On Ara Batur (“Row Boat”), the group recorded the tune live in one take with the London Sinfonietta and the London Oratory Boy’s Choir, a total of 90 people playing at the same time – and the near nine-minute-long track makes your hair stand on end. The speed of the album slows towards the end, and some of lead singer Jonsi’s wistful vocals bring to mind Thom Yorke or Neil Young’s Philadelphia.

Meo Suo… mixes up tempos and styles and is quite simply a musical marvel made by musical mavericks. If you haven’t bought it yet, make sure you do soon.

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