2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
One of THE greatest albums ever made and the best by Sigur Rós, 23 Jun. 2010
As a lifelong fan of The Smiths, Pixies and Radiohead Sigur Rós had an immediate appeal to me in their creation and realisation of 'Fast'Slow' melodic music steeped in atmosphere and cosmic, ethereal talent. Nothing prepared me for this monster though which forced me to redefine my expectations of what music can achieve. In each of the ten songs on the stunning - even in terms of it's packaging - Ágætis Byrjun ""A good beginning", the band fuse together some kind of never-heard-before audiological melodrama complete with brutal and sensational emotional kicks and punches.
Using recycled musical themes, genius-strength palindromic (the same forwards and backwards) orchestral arrangements and singing in Icelandic and his own gibberish language, Jónsi Birgisson leads us in gently through the first three tracks only to suddenly stun me with what can only be described as four of the four of the most outright beautiful, bedazzling songs of all time. Dazed is an understatement applied to the state of mind I was in having heard in quick succession the rousing, spectacle of Flugufrelsarinn (with some of the best vocals ever committed to record), their masterpiece - the scraping, tortured allure of Nı batterí then the unearthly procession of Hjartağ hamast. Finally the lovely Viğrar vel til loftárása - which also has an award winning video - winds the album back down to the three peaceful closing tracks - Olsen Olsen, the title track and the conclusion Avalon, which ends with what sounds like an acoustic guitar being left standing in the studio next to a speaker someone forgot to switch off.
The overall effect of Ágætis Byrjun is such a mesmerizing array of emotional punch and genius - especially the formidable Nı batterí (which would make me want to give up if I were a musician) - that I was left deeply moved and shocked out of my personal apathy. As a visual artist I have listened to this album repeatedly for a decade without tiring of it. Unfortunately none of the subsequent output of Sigur Rós has matched this for me, athough when I saw them live recently some of the tracks from 2008's Me> Su> í Eyrum Vi> Spilum Endalaust sounded like they were again bordering on producing this exquisite, dark, brooding music again. One thing is for sure - they are are a truly inimitable talent which, as well as The Smiths, are the only other band I would have been truly disappointed to have missed out on in my life.
Fortunately for me they made this album and perhaps the second greatest song ever (after The Smith's 'Last Night I Dreamt That somebody Loved Me' in the gorgeous one-off gem that is Nı batterí.