Kveikur - XL
FILTER Grade: 87%
By Ken Scrudato on June 18, 2013
It niggles a bit. Here it is, 13 years into a new century, and Sigur Rós, one of the most revolutionary forces of the aural cause are, well, releasing an…album. OK, perhaps it was too much to hope that they would transcend all banal notions of the music-go-round by, say, founding their own religion or nation state. That said, the curious dichotomy of Sigur Rós has been that their life-altering live performances often seemed more akin to the ZOSO mysticism of Led Zeppelin than the enveloping enigma of their own recorded output. So that Kveikur opener “Brennisteinn” sounds for everything like Jimmy Page’s fantasy of My Bloody Valentine, and is then followed by the Eastern, Physical Graffiti echoes of “Hrafntinna,” gives deceptive rise to all manner of exhilarating expectation. But, slightly disappointingly, they veer right back onto trodden paths: those moments of chiming, grandiose exuberance and widescreen etherea that, admittedly, are still like nothing you’ve ever heard before…except for Sigur Rós.
Alas, it’s difficult, if slightly unfair, not to expect them to be unerringly the most reality-shattering sonic entity in the universe; and thus it seems a gently wasted opportunity that “Stormur” is really nothing more than, well, pretty…just like them. It’s piercingly obvious how much they yearn to roll the tanks over the barricades on the menacing title track, but by “Bláþráður” they seem to be safely retreating again to solid ground. And so it is that the tragedy of expectation is such that Kveikur, taken in a vacuum, would genuinely leave you gasping in awe—but since this is the band whose very existence has rendered nihilism a no-longer-tenable position, one is simply left aching for something more...and more, and more. Make no mistake, Kveikur is another brilliant addition to the Sigur Rós canon; it’s just not, you know…different brilliant.