Highlights: Brennistein, Isjaki, Stormur, Kveikur
It’s one of the two: either the last couple of Sigur Rós albums were not that good (and my liking them was totally delusional) or Kveikur really is so brilliant. I’m currently leaning towards the latter option. This album gives me the same sort of intense joy I was getting while listening to Ágætis byrjun and Takk… Kveikur is like Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust with all past depth restored and like Valtari with substance.
There’s a sense of urgency and importance in these nine lush, meticulously executed songs. This is evident on the opening “Brennistein” which is noisy, pretty and catchy in that ephemeral way that this band has always so effortlessly strived for. This song, like pretty much every other song on Kveikur, has an occasional ambient moment, but this time the ambience is actually full-blooded and powerful. There’s a rather bland ballad “Yfirbord” that I still can’t wrap my mind around, but it is immediately followed by the brilliant, Arcade Fire-like intensity of “Stormur” and the propulsive, anthemic title track. In more than one way, this is Sigur Rós heaven.
A perfect starting point for newcomers, and one of those albums that sound like a comeback of a band that hasn’t really been away. I almost gave it a nine, but Kveikur is not quite there. Besides, when the brief and beautiful “Var” ended, I decided to play Bowie’s Heathen, and there’s no way those two albums could share the same rating. But clearly a 2013 top ten contender.