Jónsi Go(XL) Buy it from Insound
Everything Jónsi touches is beautiful. Whether what he’s making is innovative, treading artistic water or somewhere in between, his angelic voice always floats gorgeously over it, lending emotional meaning and curiosity to foreign (or completely made up) languages. He’s always seemed the least restrained part of Sigur Ros, the more cheerfully buoyant part of the group. Go is his chance to explore that side of himself that he hasn’t quite had the chance too before.
The album seems a stylistic continuation of where Sigur Ros was heading on the first half of their last mouthful of an album, Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust, which saw them exploring more acoustic textures in major keys. It began promisingly but they soon slipped back into their tried and true style. Go delivers where Med Sud (no way am I typing that whole thing out again) never did.
It’s big, bombastic and more over the top than anything Sigur Ros has ever produced. It feels huge, rife with pounding drums, layered vocals and what sounds like a full on symphony backing him up. His usual bowed electric guitar is completely abandoned, leaving him focused entirely on vocals. Pulling this off this kind of sound live is going to be quite the challenge.
The strings were arranged and composed by Nico Muhly and based around Jónsi’s demos, cementing it as a separate entity from Sigur Ros. All the songs probably could have fit on any of the full band’s records but are tweaked just enough to sound outside of their usual sonic realm.
Obscenely cheerful is about the only way I can think of to describe the albums tone. Sigur Ros isn’t necessarily always depressing, but it’s rarely cheerful. It’s fitting for cold, rainy or snowy days. Go is fitting for a forest pixie summer solstice celebration.
Jónsi has delivered where his full band failed last time around. It’s nowhere near as good as Sigur Ros at their best, but that’s a hard high to hit more than once or twice. It’s a solid album throughout, with satisfying builds and a cacophony of beautifully symphonic music.8 April, 2010 - 08:22 — Andrew Baer