In the year Sigur Ros released their first album "Von", it sold 313 copies. Things have changed a lot in the past decade, and yet, they haven't. Their records are round and they play instruments, but that's about all they have in common with anyone. Their songs still have unique titles, their albums have unwieldy names, their artwork is still uniquely individual : the cover of this sums up the record in an instant : naked men and women running across a road, breaking with convention - not because it is an act of rebellion, but because it is what the heart feels is true.
From the off, Sigur Ros have never been so accessable, and yet it is still, utterly and completely filled with the trademarks of their sound : ascending rhythms, vistas of strings, ethereal otherworldly vocals that soar and elevate, music that eschews the convention of verse / chorus / guitar solo in favour of a unfolding panorama of invention. Sure, all this flowery language is so very 1986-NME-Cocteau-Twins, but then again, about the only thing that is familiar about this record is that you can buy it in shops.
Starting with the rampaging crescendo is "Inni Mer Syngur Vitleysinger" (rough transalation : "I have no idea what this means"), "Meo Suo I Eyrum..." is very possibly the greatest Sigur Ros record yet. It opens like a weird James hit single, then within 17 seconds takes an abrupt left turn into a fluffy Jesus & Mary Chain with a vast chorus. This record hints at a world yet unseen, touches upon the vast possibilities, takes the promises of other music, and leaves them all in the dust. You thought Radiohead were weird? Compared to Sigur Ros, Radiohead are Take That.
The first half of the record is vibrant, uplifting, all drums and choruses and massive swathes of indistinct angels trilling in your ears. The second half is quieter, more reflective, introspective half-seen glimpses of songs, an alien lullaby, or an insomniac sunset seen from the window of a transatlantic jetliner.
In fact, words are pretty much redundant to explain the intricate and unique world this record creates. Unlike any other music I've heard. Sigur Ros is immersive. It's the sound of music you hear on the stairs when two different records are playing at the same time, and you heard a new third, impossible song - and that is Sigur Ros, a world underneath your fingertips you didn't know existed. And its also the closest thing Sigur Ros have ever come to a conventional pop music : at times ("Ara Batur") it sounds like something Coldplay and Brian Eno would reject as far-too-weird. In one respect, Sigur Ros music is a blank canvas - there is no `meaning' except that we make ourselves, no interpretation but that we add. Every listener, every reader, everyone who's ever seen a film brings with them, unwitting or not, their baggage, their interpretation, their world, and creates something that is what the author intended but also, far far more than that. Sigur Ros music is impressionistic, foggy, a musical Rosharch Inkblot Test that provides the listener to create their own paradise and get lost in that forever.