Takk..., 180G Black Vinyl: Two 12" LPs, One 10" Single Sided w/Etching on One Side
When Sigur Rós' second full-length record, Agetis Byrjun, landed stateside in 2001, its extraterrestrial oozing was so unfamiliar (and, subsequently, unnerving) to American ears that it managed to finagle a staggering number of meticulously rendered comparisons to glaciers and fjords and icebergs: By year-end, it seemed oddly plausible to presume that Sigur Rós' songs were actually being mouthed by giant mounds of snow. Something about Agetis Byrjun-- its celestial groping, its shimmers, its weird vastness-- seemed handcuffed to the landscape from which it was born. Thus, the mythology of Iceland-- of staggering literacy and longevity, of Björk, of Reykjavik, of volcanoes and fisheries and giant slabs of ice-- became the mythology of Sigur Rós. Unsurprisingly, domestic intrigue peaked almost immediately: The record's liner notes and cover-- a silver alien-baby hybrid boasting angel wings-- revealed precious little about its creation, and vocalist Jonsi Birgisson openly admitted to howling in an entirely self-fabricated language. In 2001, Sigur Rós were deliciously strange, the only sensible soundtrack to post-millennial comedowns, all future and faith, bones and blood and ice and sun, culled gently from an island far, far away.
In the years that followed, Sigur Rós released three EPs, reissued their debut, and popped out another full-length, the ever-contentious, unspeakable ( ). With each new record, the band dutifully maintained their trademark swells, bowing consistently before the altar of ebb and flow, until Sigur Rós began to sound less like an icecap melting and more like Sigur Rós. The mystery melted, the fascination faltered, and the animated, barstool retellings of The Sigur Rós Story died down. Still, Sigur Rós are more than just a conversation piece, meatier than their reputation, better than the otherworldly blubbers they're so casually accused of: With Takk, the songcraft that once made Agetis Byrjun everyone's favorite sunrise record re-emerges intact. Melodies stick, songs coalesce, and Sigur Rós lay off the grim theatrics, reminding listeners everywhere that they intend to play theaters, not funeral homes.
Ultimately, Takk is a warmer, more orchestral take on the band's defining sound, and easily their most instantly accessible record to date (shockingly, over a third of the album's songs clock in at under five minutes each.) The cheerless drones of ( ) are replaced by more bass, drums, piano, horns, and samples, strings are more prominent than ever before, and Birgisson's lyrics are especially incidental, all barely-audible squeals and sighs. Mostly, Takk is ecstatic, constantly erupting in funny little waves of joy. Dissenters who rejected Sigur Rós as the soundtrack to wrist-slittings everywhere might be temporarily perplexed by the band's new, wide-eyed giggles-- but mostly, Takk just sounds like Sunday morning Sigur Rós, all yawns and sleepy grins and quick yanks at the curtains. -Pitchfork