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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lush Icelandic dream-pop, 18 Nov 2008
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This review is from: SLEEPDRUNK SEASONS (Audio CD)
Icelandic newcomers Hjaltalin are almost certainly going to have to grin and bear thousands of lazy comparisons to Sigur Ros as they introduce their sound to the UK. But though they share that band's sense of adventure, their debut album 'Sleepdrunk Seasons' has much more in common with the epic pop of Arcade Fire and the woozy psychedelia of Mercury Rev.

Hjatalin's main strength is their subtle use of strings and brass, and when they take the guitars out of the equation, this makes tracks like 'Sleepdrunks Seasons 1' sound charmingly archaic. 'Traffic Music' also ends like a moody, Decemberists-style sea shanty. They're never tempted, however, to turn their songs into overblown faux-symphonies, except perhaps on the bizarre fanfare which opens 'Debussy'.

The first half of the album is full of playful pop meldodies, the finest being 'The Boy Next Door' which builds into a glorious orchestral chorus. 'Traffic Music' is another standout, perfectly balancing upbeat indie-pop with a lazy, autumnal feel. The album shifts gear for a moment with the delicate, melancholy instrumental break 'Kveldúlfur', which sounds like it's lifted straight from a film score.

Unfortunately, the more wistful second half doesn't quite live up to the opening tracks. Nothing is offensively bad, but some songs seem to be little more than pleasant. 'The Trees Don't Like The Smoke', for example, lacks a memorable hook and shows the limitations of their lyrics by just throwing together some natural imagery. It's saved by the superb closing track 'Trailer Music', which perfectly showcases the band's sweet boy/girl harmonies.

Hjatalin's distinctive mixture of energetic indie-pop and classical influences makes for a refershing, adventurous and original debut album. It may have its flaws, but it hints at much more to come - their answer to 'Funeral' or 'Deserter's Songs' is surely just around the corner - and there's plenty more places they could go with a formula as good as this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Subliminal, 22 Jan 2009
This review is from: SLEEPDRUNK SEASONS (Audio CD)
To get a band in the 21st century that firstly has a unique sound and secondly are extremely talented is a rarity beyond none. They produce music that comes from somewhere else, (definitely nothing like sigur ros). But to be brutally honest these guys sound a lot like the Magic Numbers, icelandic style.
If you are open minded enough, get this, it's one of those records that can be played and played and played.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, 3 Dec 2008
This review is from: SLEEPDRUNK SEASONS (Audio CD)
The more I listen to this album, the more I like it. It's a like shoving everything in a big mixer pour it out and you have some delicacy! It's arty, folky, rocky, poppy, indie in a sort of Scandinavian Fleet Foxes sort of way!! OK, God knows what that means but the songs flow very well on the album and the more you listen it becomes like a story.

Stand out tracks are the amazing "Traffic Music" (one of best tracks of 2008!!!), "The Boy Next Door" and "The Trees Don't Like the Smoke". All I can say is why is this band not getting more exposure in the UK??
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 6 Feb 2009
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K. Holland (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: SLEEPDRUNK SEASONS (Audio CD)
Awesome album, one of the best albums I have heard in a long time, well worth a listen.
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SLEEPDRUNK SEASONS
SLEEPDRUNK SEASONS by Hjaltalin (Audio CD - 2008)
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