Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust – yes, in some language, those are real words – is the 5th studio album from Icelandic post… everything (?) experimental group Sigur Rós. In English, the title translates to “With a buzz in our ears we play endlessly.” It’s a fun, freeing record best characterized by its cover: running, dancing, naked hippie people.
With a buzz (because I refuse to – and also cannot – abbreviate a language I don’t even know and/or claim to understand) sees Sigur Rós taking a stylistic turn. Ágætis Byrjun is a beautiful record because it’s haunting, reflective, and powerful in an unexpected way. When it dropped in 1999, it was unlike much of anything that we’d ever heard before in America: sprawling and expansive tracks that connected to those of us who speak English in spite of the fact that we couldn’t understand a damn word because it isn’t a real language.
I will say this: With a buzz is more upbeat, happy, and at times, quite beautiful. But, as with a lot of their discography, the songs start to run together to the point of not being able to recognize one from the other.
Interesting to note: the song with a string arrangement is, for me, the low point of this album. Unfortunate for the band that they cannot hide behind a song that just… won’t ever end.
Also of interest, this record is the first to feature a song entirely in English: “All Alright.” Previously, Jónsi and company have dabbled in half “Hopelandic” (the language that the members of Sigur Rós have devised), half… some sort of Icelandic, et al.
One of the primary characteristics of With a buzz and how it differs from previous Sigur Rós albums is its stripped down, nearly acoustic songs. The band released a film, Heima, which featured the group traveling the countryside of Iceland and playing songs to local village people and country folk in an acoustic setting. Those wholly organic experiences must have inspired a song like “Illgresi” because of how raw and fragile it is. Have a listen.
From their 2008 release, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (With a buzz in our ears we play endlessly), this is Sigur Rós’ “Illgresi” –
Standout tracks: “Gobbledigook” and “Inní mér syngur vitleysingur”
Weakest track: “Ára bátur” drags on forever.
RIYL: Ambient, post-rock. Explosions in the Sky, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Jónsi and Alex.