I'll level with you straightaway. I couldn't give an unbiased Sigur Ros review if you pointed a crossbow straight at my temple and told me your trigger-finger was well itching. I love them. I love their music more than any other music I have ever heard in the four decades I've been around. I wouldn't care if every other band I loved vowed only from this point on to only record covers of Chas and Dave records. As long as I have Sigur Ros, I am happy.
So it's no surprise I give this five stars. If fact I would give it six, seven if I could. Hold on, no wait! I've given it FOUR! What am I doing?
Well, it's not often that Sigur Ros disappoint me. Not since, after wearing out "Agaetis Byrjun" and "()", I finally got my hands on "Von" - the first album, and played it, and discovered it to be by the world's only Curve tribute band (and a bad one at that). But the Hvarf half of Hvarf-Heim is not Sigur Ros anywhere approaching what they are capable of. It's merely a collection of b-sides (if they released singles, that is), the final track - Hafsol - having been released before. If Hvarf-Heim had just been Hvarf, then I would have felt cheated.
Now we come to Heim. Oh dear Lord. Having listened to these six songs I know that I cannot listen to them again, tonight. Sigur Ros's music has such a way of reaching deep into you, finding your heartstrings and plucking them without thought of mercy. But somehow these acoustic versions of old favourites sound so raw and honest that hearing them just leaves you breathless. Samskeyti, the first track, is also known as Untitled #3, and the version on "()" is sublime enough, but on Heim, without the effects and the loops and the little Jonsi bits alternating between your left and right speakers, it transcends the sublime and becomes something of pure loveliness. Just the notes, just the music. It's a stunning thing to hear. The rest of the tracks take the same stance, with Sigur Ros even performing a miraculous rescue of the mundane "Von" from that tepid first album. At the end of it your ears feel like they've been repeatedly slapped by a huge Icelandic haddock, or you're that boy at the end of the "Saeglopur" video, drowning in an aural sea of bliss.
Well, I'm glad that's off my chest. Six stars for Heim, but only two for Hvarf, making four. I'm off for a little lie down.