I waited longer than most before I decided that an iPod was a necessity last winter. Even though I spend a lot of time walking (and listening to music), I couldn't help but wonder if I would use it enough to justify the price. Validation came quickly. Some things in life are invaluable; listening to Sigur Ros' debut album, Agaetis Byrjun, as I trudged through the morning snow on my way to lab supersedes the cost of an iPod.
With that in mind, I was both excited and nervous about the band's new release, Takk. Could they possibly match the anguish and beauty that were so oddly paired on their debut? Could they really top the emotion of "Svefn-G-Englar" or the instrumentation of "Staralfur"? Once again, validation came quickly.
Sigur Ros made a great album by changing their delivery. Sure, the ambience is still there, as is the glacial beauty. Where this album really differs is its mood. I don't claim to be an expert on the Icelandic or Hopelandic languages, but the album seems to be hopeful. Yes, believe it or not, Takk has an optimistic vibe! Although their previous recordings employed a plethora of instruments (violins, keyboards, etc.), many songs took the minimalistic approach. With the new album, we are introduced to a new Sigur Ros. Although the violins and keyboards are still prominent, so are the guitar, bass, and drums. You may have to wait four minutes for it at times, but the songs build to swirling crescendos that never disappoint.
As for standout tracks, it's hard to know where to start. "Glosoli", "Milano", and "Gong" grab your attention first, but lead singer Jonsi's vocals make every track a success. I sometimes doubt that his falsetto has a defined range, and he knows how to use it. It might be unfair to the other elements of the band to say that his voice pushes the album to greater heights, but it does.
Some groups just have it figured out, and Sigur Ros is one of them. It's doubtful that music circles will embrace Takk in the same fashion they did with Agaetis Byrjun, but to let this disc slip away into the realm of forgotten albums would be a travesty. Make your day and pick up a copy of Takk.