Sigur Rós's astonishing 1999 LP, "Ágaetis Byrjun
", was unreplicable. In the years since, they've made catchier songs and noisier songs; but nothing quite matches the otherworldly ambience of their early masterpiece. "Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust" marks a change of direction. In short, it's the first time Sigur Rós have sounded like a band, rather than a school of whales at the bottom of a fjord.
The first four songs are fresh, sunkissed, acoustic, playful: you'd hardly believe it's still Sigur Rós, but it all works beautifully. The message is clear: this is a fun album, a soundtrack for summer, for festivals, for beaches, for running naked across roads. After this brilliant opening, the album loses momentum a little (in particular, "Ára bátur" is overlong and overblown, with choirs and orchestras battling with the vocals for space in your ears), but it's all done with enough verve to keep your finger away from the skip button. "Með suð" is by far Sigur Rós's most accessible record, and is a fine place for newcomers to start.
The bottom line is that "Með suð" is good news: the successful sonic evolution of one of the most consistently interesting bands in the world today.