older readers may remember the days when sigur rós were tipped for great, giant, wembley-sized things. of course, this was at the turn of the century, when radiohead and spiritualized were ruling the airwaves, iceland (the country, not the food shop) was hip and people were less scared of foreigners and intellectuals. although sigur rós have been featured in numerous films and have been a staple of ‘atmospheric’ documentary scenes, they’ve never quite broken through. all this may be set to change, as this new outing has been widely (if misleadingly) described as their ‘ok computer’. this might be wishful thinking on emi owner guy hands’s part.
having lost the real radiohead, he’s doubtless keen to install a replacement as quickly as possible. emi shareholders will be disappointed to hear this is not their ‘a rush of blood to the head’ either. both of these albums represented moments in which the bands involved took a creative leap in the dark, whereas ‘meo…’ sees sigur rós temper their creative extremes – to a point. this is, without doubt, their most commercial record, simply because it’s the one which has the most obvious grasp of traditional song dynamics. the defiantly freeform outfit haven’t stooped quite as low as using verses and choruses, but there’s a definite sense of direction to the likes of ‘góoan daginn’. they’ve even written one in english, ‘all alright’, although in singer jonsi birgisson’s keening falsetto, which still sounds like the whale version of thom yorke, it doesn’t make much difference in terms of decipherabilty.
it’s highly likely this album will win the rós new fans and reinvigorate old ones, which is good news. but it’s also a relenetlessly melancholy record, with none of the fist-pumping crescendos that add a bit of patented, unit-shifting false hope to coldplay and snow patrol’s output. this is most likely what will keep it out of the cd changers of many school-run beamers. although should you get stuck in a blizzard and are looking for something fitting to die to, this is your album.