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4.6 out of 5 stars38
4.6 out of 5 stars
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What a fabulous album. Sigur Rós' frontman Jónsi Birgisson's solo album titled "Go" consists of symphonic electronic music and is surprisingly pop orientated in places, and what's wrong with that? His recent cover of MGMTs "Time to Pretend" was a revelation and showcases his voice touched by his Icelandic accent and with beautiful depth. It points to to some of the work on here with his vocals at the forefront but of course echoes of the "mothership" Sigur Ros also abound. Indeed it is a hybrid made in heaven containing Jonsi's desire to carve a new path but building on the foundations of the best of what has gone before. Indeed the new found freedom allows him to reinvent himself something which Sigur Ros for all their sheer brilliance have generally avoided embracing instead redefinition and preferring more incremental progression.

Start at the most radical departure which is "Boy Lilikoi". Gentle waves of warm synths tinkle in the background and then a joyous vocal follows from Birgisson that is so sweet that it could almost be a Scritti Politti song. Likewise the albums opener "Go do" is all fluttering flutes and bouncing rhythms which build up to a remarkable noise and has the word "single" stamped all over it. Animal Arithmetic on times sounds like euro disco but it is excellent, madly danceable and with enough twists and turns to give your speakers multiple identity problems. "Tornado" alternatively is a darker and fuller beast for which you must employ the overused word "epic", as Jonsi sings "You grow like tornado, you grow from the inside, destroy everything"

The album in its second half moves into more familiar Sigur Ros territory and again works so well he ought to patent this music. Inevitably you are drawn to the final three tracks the hugely euphoric "Around Us" in effect ends the pop music and the choral beauty and glacial clarity of Sigur Ros becomes apparent. The slow, crystal like beauty that unfolds around that angelic vocal are accompanied by overlays of snow drop synths on "Grow till tall" which are testament to Jonsi's work with composer Nico Muhly. It has the same kind of otherworldly effect as Radiohead's "Motion Picture Soundtrack" and is a towering highlight. Why then not follow it with yet another one which Jonsi does immediately in the form of "Heniglas" with its huge backdrop of tearful cellos. Having already mentioned soundtracks producers will flock to have this song as a part of their project. Sigur Ros's composition "Hoppipolla" has been a staple of programmes by the "latter day Saint" Sir David Attenborough, it also increasingly used to underpin great sporting moments. It now has a rival since "Heniglas" deserves the visual imagery of a "Planet Earth" quality context where we can be rendered speechless by both the splendour of all the aesthetic and orchestral beauty.

Giving out 5 stars sometimes brings on bouts of guilt. Are your impressions wrong, will the album grow or fizzle out and what if no one else likes it? Frankly who cares, "Go" is immense and fit to burst with sounds that make the world that bit better/brighter and is the reason why Baz Luhrmann once stated that "music is there for when words fail us".
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on 4 May 2010
On first listen this album sounds like pop-ified Sigur Rós -- tracks like "Go Do" and "Boy Lilikoi" may initially scare off long-term fans of the band with their faster, more up-tempo melodies... But I'm one of those long-term fans too - I first listened to Sigur way-back-when, when Agaetis Byrjun hit the shelves - an album which took me through many a university assignment, and still my favourite Sigur Rós album ahead of Takk... And while at first I hated this solo album and neglected listening to it for a second time for way over a fortnight, I eventually came back to it when I was sitting in my garden one night in need of something uplifting.

And that's when it all made sense. This album may be Sigur Light, in many respects (shortened track lengths, never quite so over the top) but the melodies and the song writing are utterly spell-binding. The pop-ish songs grow on you eventually and provide a wonderful contrast to the beauty of "Tornado", "Sinking Friendships" and most notably: "Grow Till Tall", which is as stunning a piece of music as Jonsi has ever produced. In many ways, the pop songs "glue" the album together better than any previous Sigur Rós album due to the increased range of more upbeat emotions on show -- the energy created during the first four tracks makes the slower pieces that close the album all the more moving and intense.

"Go" will be overlooked by many: too "different" to be pop, and too "pop" to be Sigur Rós... But give it a chance and it will leave a very profound mark on you. This is an almost perfect musical experience from beginning to end. Buy it, give it time, and eventually treasure it.
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on 1 April 2010
Well it was always going to be pretty good wasn't it? The musical output that Jónsi has achieved over the past decade or so with Sigur Rós has always been extraordinary in its breadth and its beauty. There's certainly no diminution of quality with this solo effort. Jónsi's voice is as beautiful and otherworldly as ever. There have been 'whisperings' over the past weeks that this album will be too 'poppy' (is that so bad?). Don't listen to the whisperings. This fits in as well as 'Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust' to the Sigur Rós canon in my opinion. Yes the epic nature of Sigur Rós maybe not so up front at the beginning ('Grow Till Tall' approaches anything in the Sigur Ros back catalogue for grandeur) and yes a couple of the tracks are a lot more 'accessible' but this certainly isn't too poppy.

The album kicks off with the more accessible songs that people who have come to Jónsi without going through the Sigur Rós route might appreciate. The songs ('Go Do', 'Animal Arithmetic' and 'Boy Lilikoi') are the poppier ones on the album and are of course more immediate to those who haven't approached this through their love of post rock. But if you liked the 'poppier' songs on the last Sigur Rós album then this is nothing more than you got there. So you post-rock diehards can relax. We also get the full range of Jonsi's remarkable voice here. Check out 'Kolniður' - starts on low notes but the high pitched falsetto that appears towards the end of the song is breathtaking, it just soars.... The grandeur builds through the album as it gets steadily more soulful till the beautiful climax of 'Grow Till Tall' and 'Hengilás'. This is wonderful ethereal stuff, and as good as anything Jónsi has written before.

Have to say the accompanying string arrangements of Nico Muhly are wonderful, especially on the closer, 'Hengilás'. The entire album is nothing short of moving. A remarkable piece of work. (10/10)
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on 12 April 2010
This album fills me with pure joy. I cannot listen to it without a smile on my face, a spring in my step and a warmth in my heart.
Jonsi's voice, singing mostly in English this time, is so achingly ethereal and beautiful it fills every track with an otherworldy feel and leaves you feeling like you've experienced something deeply profound.
If you love Sigur Ros you won't go wrong with this album. It's just as uplifting and gorgeous. Jonsi is clearly a musical genius.
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To a certain extent this album seems to be dividing opinions among fans of Sigur Ros. I've been a fan of the band for many years, as has my next-door neighbour, and whereas I really like "Go" he's not so keen as to him it is too poppy, and lacks the stately majesty of the band.

Don't expect chart-friendly pop music though. Jonsi's voice is still an acquired taste, and although he sings in English for much, possibly all (it's often hard to tell!) of the album there's not much here you're likely to hear on the radio. The first half of the album is the most upbeat and commercial, tracks like "Go Do", "Boy Lilikoi" and "Animal Arithmetic" featuring skittering percussion in abundance, but from around the half way mark things slow down significantly. The best track is probably "Grow Till Tall", which is also the most Sigur Ros-like to my ears.

If you get the chance seek out the "Go Quiet" film Jonsi has also released, where he performs all of the tracks solo using acoustic instruments. It's mesmerising, very reminiscent of the performances in the "Heima" film, and fans of Sigur Ros may well enjoy this version more than the album itself.

For me, "Go" is a really enjoyable album, and while I look forward to Sigur Ros releasing another album in the none too distant future (contrary to rumour they have NOT split up!) this will suffice for now. Recommended.
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on 20 September 2010
Firstly, I am a massive Sigur Ros fan and, though this is what led me to find out about Jonsi's solo album, it is not what made me buy it and not why I love it so much. Those people who say things like 'not quite Sigur Ros', frankly, irritate me. Why is the comparison necessary? I imagine if Jonsi wanted to make music similar to Sigur Ros, he wouldn't have gone off to do this solo album. This is an irritation which also occurs when I read reviews of Kele (Okereke, singer of Bloc Party)'s solo album. It's meant to be different! Just as Jonsi is different to Riceboy Sleeps (Jonsi's collaboration with his partner, Alex Somers), Riceboy Sleeps is different to Sigur Ros and Jonsi is different to Sigur Ros.
I saw Jonsi on tour last week and it was one of the best, if not the best, show I have been to. The amount of effort he puts into his music, performance and show is absolutely immense. I have had a massive grin on my face from the moment he came on the stage to now.
For the reviewer "laughingdog", even if you don't like the album, I really cannot understand how anyone can call this music shallow.
If you like Sigur Ros, give this a go.
If you don't know or like Sigur Ros, give this a go.
Most importantly, if you enjoy music with heart and depth which makes you physically feel something, please, give Jonsi a listen.
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on 8 June 2010
If there is an album made this year better than this, i'll eat my hat and everyone elses. Being a huge Sigur Ros fan, i was apprehensive of one of my musical heroes making an album less than perfect. My worrie's were ill founded. From the joyful euphoria of Go Do and Animal Arithmetic, the subtle beauty of Hengilas and Kolniour to the stunning Grow Till Tall, this is an album that begs to be played again and again.

Jonsi's voice is as ever striking and beautiful and the layered arrangements compliment him superbly. Go is ambitious and daring. Many first solo albums are a little safe, theres no accusation of that possible here.

Its a masterpiece, life after Sigur Ros may not be so bad after all
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on 8 April 2010
After being rather disappointed with the "Rice Boy Sleeps" album, i had doubts about this solo project but they have proven to be completely misplaced. It is a stunning collection of songs which manages to deliver upbeat pop, remarkable percussion and serene, thought-provoking music at every turn.

Compared to much of the Sigur Ros catalogue it is clearly more mainstream but the fact is that there is not a bad track on the entire album.

It could perhaps be longer but a huge amount of quality has been packed in to what running time there is.

It ticks just about every box for me and i cannot recommend it too highly.
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Once in a blue moon (and then only rarely) a door we
had not noticed before in the familiar garden wall
opens to reveal another world. The briars and brambles
part and there in the shimmering silver light we see
and hear things we never imagined possible.

Jon (Jonsi) Birgisson is a veritable Elfin Lord of
this extraordinary landscape which rolls away into
the distance before us. Strange and magical horizons.
(I could almost believe that he has pointy ears too
were I to extend my fanciful projection onto the album's
lovely artwork!)

Mr Birgisson, in collaboration with the massively talented
New York based composer/arranger Nico Muhly, has created
a project of trancendental power and vision with his
album 'Go'. I believe it eclipses (however much we love them)
the greater part of his work with Sigur Ros.

For all that his other-worldly voice has become uniquely
familiar, this new material forces us to listen to him again,
as though for the first time. What a wonderful instrument it is!

These nine pieces glow with near-alchemical energy.
Nothing could be added or subtracted from the whole
which might make it any more beautiful than it is.

Pagan percussion; luminous orchestration; rich melodies
and rhythmic complexity coalesce in compositions of
elemental density and power. The emotional tapestry
this music weaves is as beguiling as it is overwhelming.

Mr Birgisson possesses a rare and wonderful instinct.
His ability to dig deep into consciousness and spirit
and transform what he has found there into music to
fill our hearts as well as our ears is a great gift.

By the time the glorious composition 'Grow Till Tall'
had finished I was unable to hold back my tears.

This is an album to cherish.

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on 26 April 2011
Rumour has it that Jón Þór Birgisson was intending a stripped down, low-key acoustic affair for his first post-Sigur Rós solo album. If that story really is true then something, somewhere really did go quite spectacularly wrong.

A glorious, technicolour cacophony of sound, it almost literally explodes into life within seconds of opener Go Do teasing with a stuttering vocal sample and a finger picked acoustic guitar.

Flutes flutter, string sections soar and tribal drums build to a towering crescendo. It's music so brimming with unbridled optimism and effervescent joy that it's hard not to imagine it being accompanied by an explosion of fireworks and confetti.

The 100mph percussive stomp of Animal Arithmetic sounded like an orchestra getting drunk with a marching band while cinematic epics like Around Us and Sinking Friendships are surely destined to soundtrack the uplifting finales to nature documentaries for years to come. And if there was a song more breathtaking in scope and ambition in 2010 than Boy Lilikoi I didn't hear it.

There would be a danger of Go teetering into saccharine territory in less capable hands, but the sheer scale of its innocent wide-eyed wonderment overwhelmed any attempt at cynicism. It also reaffirmed the fact that Jónsi is possessed of one of the most distinctive and emotive voices in music today.

If Sigur Rós never do return from their indefinite hiatus, it's reassuring to know that even on his own Jónsi is capable of making music as unique, uplifting and extraordinary as this.
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