Given the inspired mystique surrounding the band, a change to sacrifice their stoic charm would be difficult to pull off. Sigur Ros has made their name for four studio albums on their staggering ability to enchant with delicate flickers, epic movements, and everything in between. This seemingly inexhaustible capacity has endeared them to millions, but the band has redrawn their blueprints a bit on their fifth album, and added more immediate rhythms and melodies that are more conscious while never losing sight of the power of their underlying currents.
Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust is the group’s most “rock”-flavored effort so far – generally driven by quick-paced drums and more clearly separated entities that previously built their often monumental sound. Acoustic guitars, piano, and more typical drumming stand out more, but with an orchestral flow, making for a highly theatrical, graceful rock album. The opener, “Gobbledigook”, is an acoustic campfire-esque jam that features pounding drums and hypnotic “la”s, and sets an organic tone to the album. “Inni Mer Syngur Vitleysingur” carries the smooth-stomping theme into another level as strings and metallic instruments jump into the mix. The quick pace on those tracks and the slow, tender drums and guitars on “Godan Daginn” are more intuitive in a mainstream sense, but don’t abandon any of the artistic purity Sigur Ros is built around.
The songs on this album are largely either quick or slow, and any many ways, provide a more entertaining flow as a whole. “Ara Batur” and “Fljotavik” skate purposefully along elegantly restrained melodies while “Vid Spilum Endalaust” and “Med Sud I Eyrum” gallop on higher energy. The nine-plus-minute “Festival”, of course, encapsulates it all. The final two tracks, “Straumnes” and “All Alright” (the band’s first English track), release the album with a gorgeous delicacy that could seemingly only come from the Iceland natives.
Perhaps more adventurous in its attempt at larger-scale appeal than past Sigur Ros albums, Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust expands the group’s ability to be both immediately engaging and abstract. The innate beauty of their sound is present here again, but, this time, with a nod and wink to how easily their aesthetic can be easily shared by a larger audience.