Sigur Rós – Brennisteinn (single) (XL Recordings)


It’s like the world is going to end on 31 December, 2013 and every great band or artist is squeezing out one more release before our impending doom. Already this year we’ve seen (or are about to see) amazing new releases from Depeche Mode, Primal Scream, Foals, Savages, Peace, The Knife, OMD, Theme Park, Palma Violets, Julio Bashmore, Foals, Atoms for Peace, The Boxer Rebellion, Esben and The Witch, Jeremy Olander, Disclosure, Port St. Willow, and Stuart Warwick just to name bunch…and now Sound Advice favourites, Sigur Rós have just given us the first taste of their upcoming album. Gosh, what could possibly come next?

Launched on the 22nd of March, “Brennisteinn” is the first track from the band’s upcoming seventh studio album, ‘Kveikur’ (album art above). Those who felt 2012’s ‘Valtari’ lacked dynamic or failed to capitalize on the “pop” songcraft  shown on 2005’s brilliant and most accessible Sigur Rós album ‘Takk’ may be pleasantly surprised with the new single.

The “pop” elements have returned but certainly not dressed with a pretty little bow. No, “Brennisteinn” is a sonically intense number; in fact it’s first few minutes sound apocalyptic. The first thing you notice is just how heavy “Brennisteinn” is – the bottom-end heaviness shown in the closing minutes of “Glósóli” is on full display.

Upon the first couple of listens we were unsure how we felt about “Brennisteinn”, however our thoughts on ‘Valtari’ were initially mixed too but as the months went by it went on to become one of our favourite Sigur Rós albums (read our review).

“Brennisteinn” starts out with metal-like intensity but over the course of the 7 and half minutes it  goes through several stanzas.  A post-punk bass line drives the song from  the 5 :00 mark and it’s the most rock and song-oriented we’ve heard the band in a long time but its final 90 or so seconds is made up of cinematic atmospherics. All the classic Sigur Rós trademarks are here and in fact “Brennisteinn” shares most in common with their classic ‘Ágætis byrjun’ album of 1999.

“Brennisteinn” is cohesive with its hooks but as one might expect with its duration its arrangement is complex and journeying. This is just one of wonderful things about Sigur Rós –  they challenge their listens, they reward their listeners, and they move their listeners.

The single “Brennisteinn” is the first single from the upcoming Sigur Rós album ‘Kveikur’ due for release on 17 June (18 June in North America) on XL Recordings.

Watch the incredibly stunning video for “Brennisteinn” below: