The Art of Noise from New Sigur Rós album “Kveikur”.

Sigur Ros, before  4 became 3.

Sigur Ros, before 4 became 3.

After last year’s album Valtari was released, rumours were rife that Sigur Rós were on the verge of splitting up. Sure enough their long time keyboard player left a few months later. But his departure seems to have been reasonably amicable. And barely a year later, they’re back with a new album.

Sigur Ros' new album Kveikur

Sigur Ros’ new album Kveikur

Kveikur is their 7th studio album, and the first since moving to their new label XL, after EMI and Parlophone were acquired by Universal. And it very much continues where the last one left off.

Valtari, which I reviewed earlier here, was a conscious move away from the more listener friendly tracks they’d begun producing four or five years ago. And the departure of their keyboard player has further fed into this.

This is a far more muscular affair. The rhythm section has been allowed to surface in a way that hasn’t been heard for some time. Not to produce songs, or anything that might sound like a single. But to marry the sort of grungy, post-punk feedback that sat under some of the tracks on () and Takk with Jonsi’s other worldly vocals.

As the boys for Pitchfork remarked in their review, where they gave it an approving 8.1, this is a return, if not to what they were doing before, then to what they’d been hinting at in much of that earlier work. Ethereal poise driven by industrial noise.

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