I discovered Sigur Rós, like many of us did, via the rapturously received Ágætis byrjun avant-garde psych-prog statement made even more exotic due to the band’s use of their native Icelandic language and their own bespoke language Vonlenska. It was a vast-sounding orchestrated album which made great use of their slow burning arrangements and it took just a single train journey from Edinburgh to Sheffield for me to fall under Sigur Rós’s spell. Icelandic prog rock was cool.
2008’s Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust ditched the heavy orchestrations in favour of something a little more simple. Apparently the original plan was for the lyrics to be sung in English, however the decision was made to revert back to Icelandic vocals, with only album closer “All Alright” retaining the lyrics in English. In one sense it’s a shame that the original plan was scrapped, but for the band to have turned away from both their orchestral majesty and Icelandic lyrics in just one move would have perhaps been a leap too far for established fans. Far better to make one change at a time so not to alienate their fan base in one move.
With its relatively uncluttered arrangements, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust is still an elegant sounding album, and it is still immeadiately recognisable as Sigur Rós. The Icelandic lyrics, as ever, give the impression of a beautiful soundtrack to a journey, or backing music to an appropriately idiosyncratic dinner party, but it will take research by the listener to translate their meaning, unless they happen to speak Icelandic.
In some ways the simpler arrangements on Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust equate to it being Sigur Rós’s most accessible album to date, but it’s hardly the sort of thing that is destined to shift big units in your local supermarket chain. Sigur Rós make great music for those that can make the effort to seek it out, and trust me, the effort is worth it.