Read my reviews of albums by Sigur Rós (not including remix records):
1997: Von (7/10)
Over their career, Sigur Rós has defined their own, unique style of Post Rock, a style that borders on Indie Rock genres about as much as anything I would consider Post Rock can, but that has enough elements to make their sound not really fit in any other genre. (Nitpicking I know.)
Their debut gives hints as to what would come later – and is extremely ambitious for a debut – but is also clearly the mark of a young band. (What veteran band would open their album with 9 minutes of ambient unless it was meant as a “fuck you” to casual fans?) It’s pretty clear they hadn’t found their identity yet. But what they had stumbled upon were elements of a unique sound that would later coalesce into something so distinct as to be worthy of its own moniker.
This definitely isn’t the place to start for newbies, but it’s not as bad as the RYM rating suggests – far from it actually: it’s provocative, daring, ambitious and unique. It just needed a producer.
Note: I haven’t listened to this album in years so I have no idea what I would think about it now.
1999: Ágætis byrjun (9/10)
Sometime after 2005 and I wrote the following:
Sigur Rós sketch out this weird place in: is this dream pop? indie rock? post rock? Their unique [sound] is made even more unique by their invented lyrics.
This record is, to my ears, the perfect distillation of their unique sound (which could really be called Rósian, or whatever). It’s their strongest set of songs and everything after sort of feels like it never quite reaches the heights of this album.
If you’re going to introduce yourself to Sigur Rós, this is the record to do it. But it’s probably as accessible a way into Post Rock as can be imagined, as well. It’s pretty much a classic.
I do think this is the most typical Sigur Rós record and probably the best one. (Or, at least, the most accessible of their early records.) Only one song is actually in their invented language, I think, but Icelandic is still a feature that makes this hybrid dream pop/post rock band unique.
Their sound is indeed utterly distinct and this is the record to try first.
My #4 album of 1999.
2001: Englar Alheimsins Motion Picture Soundtrack (???) with Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson
My understanding is this is more by Hilmarsson than the band. Read my reviews of 2001 albums.
2002: () (8/10)
Sigur Rós created such a distinctive sound for themselves with their early records that it’s hard to really think about them in terms of the greater context of post rock. I mean, as this music goes, you could say there is Sigur Rósian post rock, and then there are other forms of post rock.
This is not my favourite album of theirs, if only because it sounds so much like their Ágætis byrjun. Of course, that’s the problem when you have such a distinct sound.
But it’s not really a problem. If you like how this band sounds, it’s hardly a bad thing that they do a good job of sounding like themselves, right? The melodies remain strong. The arrangements remain wholly Rosian, and the made up vocals remain a useful additional instrument.
Probably my second favourite record of theirs.
My #5 album of 2022. Read my reviews of albums released in 2002.
2003: Hlemmur film score (???)
I haven’t listened to their film music. Read my reviews of music from 2003.
2005: Takk… (7/10)
I guess I feel like this is the beginning of the end; the point where the band were sort of realizing their potential on a commercial level and were adjusting their sound (slightly) to accommodate that. Or maybe I’m just crazy. But the vibe I get from this very much repetition mixed with a growing emphasis on prettiness over muscle. The edges feel a little less rough, you know? That’s not to say it’s anything like their later music, it just feels like a transitional work at this remove, and it’s a transition that I, in retrospect, am unhappy about.
Sigur Rós music from 2007:
This is so cool. It’s the kind of thing that, had I any musical talent, and had any kind of success with that talent, I’d like to think I would want to do. At least, in the indie music word, Sigur Rós were pretty huge in 2006. To put on free concerts like this, in places like this, at their level of fame, is just really, really awesome.
I haven’t listened to Sigur Rós in years, for some reason. I lost interest somewhere around Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust. But I must have added this to my list around then, so I found myself watching it tonight. It has a bit of a Under Great White Northern Lights vibe to it, only this one was first, in their home country and, most importantly, the shows were free.
The film proper is a mix of performances from these shows – from fields, coffee houses, an abandoned fish factory, and at least one proper music venue – brief clips from interviews, and footage of the surrounding countryside. The DVD comes with a second disk that is just the complete songs.
The sound is impeccable and my ears told me it had to have been polished up in studio. Alas, that seems to be true. The performances are great but there are re-recording credits. They did a do a good job of matching the music to the visuals when they tried. But it’s still pretty clearly not how they actually sounded.
But where that might be an issue for the live album, for a concert film it’s less of a problem given the visuals. Because, in addition to being a good showcase for the band’s sound and their goodwill to their home country, it’s also a pretty great advertisement for tourism in Iceland. This is a pretty film.
Worth your time if you like Sigur Rós but also if you just want to look at Iceland while listening to some ethereal music (or you want to see a band literally “give back”).
Hvarf / Heim (???)
2008: Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust [With a Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly] (6/10)
In 2008 or so, I wrote the following:
Overdone. Really, I don’t know what they were up to when they made this. It’s all…unnecessary I guess. I consider this a major step back. They do not need the orchestra to sound majestic.
2012: Valtari (???)
As I noted above, this is where I stopped listening. Read my reviews of 2012.