Album Review // Sigur Rós // Átta
It's great to hear from Sigur Rós, even if it never quite felt like they went away. Since the atmospheric kings of Icelandic post-rock released their last album, Kveikur, in 2013, the band lost a multi-instrumentalist and a drummer while frontman Jónsi continued to release new music under a variety of names , including Dark Morph (with Carl Michael von Hausswolff) and Sounds of Fischer (with Sin Fang, Alex Somers, and Kjartan Holm). So the question remains: 10 years later, what does a new Sigur Rós album sound like? Compared to the industrial heaviness that inspired Kveikur, Átta instead embraces its lack of percussion, delivering the band's most cinematic material in 20 years.
Promotional copies of the album were delivered as a single file as opposed to individual tracks, and listening to Átta, it certainly feels this is how the music was intended to be heard. Quiet pauses barely separate the songs as orchestral strings and airy synthesizers lay the backdrop for Jónsi's unmistakable, otherworldly falsetto, allowing an introduction like "Glóð" to transition into the haunting and sparse "Blóðberg" effortlessly. Put simply, the lack of diversity here is a feature, not a bug; in a world reflected by the album's violent album art, Átta offers gentle reprieve and beauty. It's not only one of the finest albums of the year, but one of the band's best, too.