Listening to this record my mind kept straying to Radiohead's Amnesiac; in the same way that Radiohead stepped away from their more accessible mainstream sound at that time in their career (and garnered reviews accusing the album of sounding like a b-side collection at best), this feels like Sigur Ros felt the need to step away and vent some ideas that had been gestating for years. The press release almost makes it sound as if the four members of the band had a commercial panic attack and decided that they'd had enough of being the poster boys for nature documentaries and hearing their music on a million different advertising campaigns. Unfortunately their name is already synonymous with dreamy atmospherics and anything short of them releasing a doom metal record is probably not going to deter those looking for something dreamy for their next trailer.
The album, it seems, is a cut up of sorts, mixer Alex Somers edited the record together from snippets of ideas, pieces of songs, experimental jams. Actually the result is still cohesive and brimming with beautiful moments. Opener Eg anda begins quietly, gentle string noises and vocal oohs which build gradually, the backing is heavy with echoes, twinkling and odd little unidentifiable noises, it's quite magical. Probably the track that stays with you the longest is Varuo, it is of course, the most tuneful and straightforward in structure, it's also very lovely; the melody is strong and when rising strings join the vocals it induces goose bumps.
Sigur Ros undoubtedly see this record as something of a break from their more commercially accessible sound but it doesn't stray very far really, not enough to kill your expectations and certainly not enough to break them free of that commercially viable tag. What the album does essentially is focus wholly on atmospherics and dreamy soundscapes over melody and structure. Perhaps that's where they begin to lose you then, as often, despite these lovely moments, the album fails to ignite passion, yes it swells in all the right places and twinkles beautifully but it's hard to feel a connection on a deeper level.