Valtari is simply the most beautiful album to come out of Iceland in years.
9.4 / 10.0
After nearly 20 years and five full length albums, Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós has released their definitive album, possibly even the greatest to come from the country which also brought us Bjork, Mum and Of Monsters and Men. Valtari (which ironically means “steamroller”) is the perfect balance between Sigur Rós’ experimental and gorgeous dream pop. It’s a masterpiece that even leans toward their ambient side and is a mesmerizing listen that will stick with you for days. This time, Sigur Rós has definitely outdone themselves.
To open the album, Sigur Rós wheels out a conservative choice, “Ég anda”, which wouldn’t feel out of place on 2005 release Takk. After a full two minutes of Jonsi’s chorus riddled ooh’s and ahh’s we’re greeted with the clattering samples and dreamy post-rock soundscapes that the band’s become known for. Even though, it’s not too out of the ordinary, it would still be the best track on any of their previous albums. “Ekki múkk” is when I realized I was in for a Sigur Rós experience like no other. This time, Jonsi’s falsetto is complimented only by a lush bed of strings. The result is simply jaw dropping and even gave me goosebumps.
“Varúð” is by far the best track on the album, a delicate piano is contrasted by powerful, moving strings, then, drums are added to the mix reaching a climax that basically defines everything Sigur Rós has done since 1994. Simple adjectives can’t really describe it, so you’ll have to hear it for yourself. “Valtari” is another gorgeous cut worthy of being the title track with its strings and strange samples building tension to a eerie chorus of bells. The 8th and final track, “Fjögur píanó”, is a warm instrumental, driven almost solely by piano. It’s a quiet escape from such a powerful album.
After hearing Sigur Rós’ latest album, it’s understandable why Jonsi decided to title it Steamroller. Although the album is teeming with a quiet, peaceful mood, it emotionally moves the listener with such power, you’d think youd just been hit by, well, a steamroller. To date, this is the first time I’ve been moved to tears by an album since OUPA’s 2011 debut Forget. This may well be the best album of the year so far, and one that I will play repeatedly until something can best it.
Purchase: Sigur Rós – Valtari