Sigur Rós

Med Sud i Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust (XL Recordings)

Sigur Rós's latest is positively festooned with danger signs: the first album to be mainly recorded outside the band's home base of Iceland, the first to feature a track sung in English, and the first coproduced by a big-shot dial-twister (Flood, of Depeche Mode fame). Somehow, though, this series of seemingly suspect compromises actually brings out new and beguiling qualities in the group. The new material ranks among the most accessible offerings Jón "Jónsi" Thor Birgisson and his cohorts have issued, but tunes such as "Vid Spilum Endalaust" — featuring a rapturous Brian Wilson-meets-Mr. Freeze arrangement — prove to be wonderfully uplifting, not commercially grasping. As a bonus, "All Alright," the aforementioned English-language ditty, is as difficult to understand as any of the stuff warbled in Icelandic. Thanks for maintaining some mystery.

 
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