famous band from Iceland
, Sigur Rós are an Alternative Rock
band commonly classified as "post-rock
", known for their ethereal sound and frontman Jónsi Birgisson's distinctive falsetto voice.
Its members are as follows:
- Jónsi (Jón Þór Birgisson) - vocals, guitar, keyboards, harmonica
- Goggi (Georg Hólm) - bass, glockenspiel, the band's best English speaker
- Orri Páll Dýrason - drums, keyboards (1999-present)
- Kjarri (Kjartan Sveinsson) - keyboards, guitar, flute, backing vocals, orchestral arrangements (1998-2012)
- Ágúst Ævar Gunnarsson - drums (1994-1999)
Sigur Rós were formed in 1994 by Jónsi, Georg and Ágúst, taking their name from Jónsi's younger sister Sigurrós (Icelandic for "victory rose") Elin. Drawing their main influences from Dream Pop
bands, the band signed with the Smekkleysa (Bad Taste) label and released one album, Von
, in 1997. Known more for its drawn-out, torturous recording than its actual songs, Von
largely falls under the banner of Early Installment Weirdness
as far as many fans, critics and even the band are concerned. A remix album, Von brigði
, followed a year later.
After recruiting classically trained keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson, the band released Ágætis byrjun
in 1999. It was with this album that the band perfected its Signature Style
, fully integrating Kjarri's lush orchestration with their Dream Pop
sound and introducing Jónsi's method of playing his guitar with a cello bow (a method previously popularised by Jimmy Page
) for a more atmospheric sound. The replacement of drummer Ágúst with Orri Páll Dýrason shortly after the album's release proved not to be too dramatic. They recorded two more albums with largely the same musical style, ( )
, swinging between Darker and Edgier
and Lighter and Softer
, before settling for a more stripped-down, direct sound with Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
After scrapping the recordings for the album that they intended to release in 2010 and taking a two-year hiatus, the band dropped Valtari
, a much more ambient, dreamlike album compared to Með suð
. Later in the year, they announced via a Reddit Q&A session that keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson had left the band permanently, making the group a trio. According to them, Kjartan said "he had spent his whole life in the band and it was time to do something different", but remained on good terms with his former bandmates. The band then released a brand-new track called "Brennisteinn" for their upcoming album, Kveikur
, to be released in June 2013. So far, it seems to be shaping up to be a New Sound Album
of sorts, incorperating elements of Industrial
music, and it has even been described by Georg Hólm as "an anti-Valtari
Hallmarks of the band's sound include: a wall of guitars, keyboards and violins, Jónsi's high-pitched, Liz Fraser
-sounding falsetto voice, use of bowed guitar, frequent use of a made-up nonsense language
named "Vonlenska" ("hopelandic"), dramatic crescendos and dynamics, and success despite the fact that most of their audience most likely doesn't understand a lick of their lyrics. Yes, they're that good
Sigur Rós albums so far are:
- Von (1997) - "Hope"
- Von brigði (1998) - "Hope Alteration", contains remixes of Von tracks. Nicknamed "Recycle Bin" due to its cover, and is also a pun in Icelandic, because vonbrigði in one word means "disappointment".
- Ágætis byrjun (1999) - "An Alright Start"
- ( ) (2002)
- Takk... (2005) - "Thanks..."
- Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (2008) - "With a Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly"
- Valtari (2012) - "Steamroller"
- Kveikur (2013) - "Candlewick"
Assorted other releases include:
- Rímur EP (2001)
- Hlemmur (2003) - Soundtrack album; the name comes from Reykjavík's main bus terminal.
- Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do EP (2004)
- Hvarf/Heim (2007) - "Disappeared/Home", compilation album. Hvarf has studio versions of previously unreleased songs, and Heim has live acoustic versions of previously-released Sigur Rós songs.
- The Rains of Castamere (2014) - A single, covering the Lannister family song from Game of Thrones in a dirge-like, melancholic manner.
There are also two documentary
- Album Intro Track: Ágætis byrjun has one; the title track of Takk... is effectively this as well.
- Album Title Drop: "Hjartað hamast (bamm bamm bamm)" has not only a title drop for its parent album, but also the two previous ones: með von að vin ég vinn upp smá tíma/leita að ágætis byrjun/en verð að vonbrigðum ("With hope as my friend I make up some time/I look for an alright beginning/But I will be disappointed").
- The liner notes to the album "Ágætis byrjun" also contains the line: Ég gaf ykkur von sem varð að vonbrigðum. Þetta er ágætis byrjun. ("I gave you hope which became a disappointment. This is a good beginning") The second sentence is also used in the track of the album with the same name.
- Adorkable: They are infamous for being terrible at interviews.
- Careful With That Axe: At the end of "Hún Jörð"
- Contemptible Cover: The naked butts on the cover of Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust. Not a marketing ploy, and not intended to shock or tittilate; they're just really into naturism (as evidenced in the decidedly NSFW video for "Gobbledigook"). Still, it's gotta be awkward when someone unfamiliar with the band stumbles across it while perusing your music collection.
- Cover Version: The single release of "Ný batterí" includes among its B-sides a cover of "Dánarfregnir og Jarðarfarir" ("News of Death and Funerals"), a theme played before obituary announcements on Iceland's national public broadcaster RÚV, and "Bíum bíum bambaló", a rendition of a traditional Icelandic lullaby.
- Darker and Edgier: Kveikur.
- Downer Ending: The video for "Viðrar vel til loftárása" ends with two boys being pulled away from each other by their fathers after said fathers see them kiss.
- Dream Pop: Moreso in their early days, but really all of it is great to fall asleep to. Well, almost all of it.
- Drone of Dread: "Sigur Ros," the self-titled opening track of Von, and the outro to "Kveikur"
- Early Installment Weirdness: Von. The album is a series of drones and sound experiments, sprinkled with heavily reverberated, Cocteau Twins-esque dream pop.
- Echoing Acoustics
- Epic Rocking: Frequent. Takk... and Með suð were the first albums to include more songs of a reasonable 3-5 minute length. "Untitled #8 (Popplagið)" deserves special mention though: the entire 12-minute song is basically one big crescendo.
- Gay Aesop: The ending to the video for "Viðrar vel til loftárása".
- Genre-Busting: They're categorized as "Post-Rock" because that's the only thing that comes even remotely close. Crescendos are a significant element in their songs, after all.
- "Hjartað hamast (bamm bamm bamm)", from Ágætis byrjun, combines the band's usual Shoegazing bombast with a Blues Rock keyboard riff and Jónsi playing the harmonica.
- The first song they premiered from Kveikur, "Brennisteinn," takes their usual mix of ethereal sounds and adds Industrial Metal into it. Yeah.
- Kveikur as a whole can be argued as their harshest and heaviest album and simultaneously as being their poppiest album behind Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust.
- Indecipherable Lyrics: If you don't speak Icelandic, you're in for this. Even if you speak Icelandic, you're in for this whenever Jónsi busts out the Vonlenska.
- I Thought That Was: If you see that one of their songs is titled "Heysátan", that's Icelandic for "haystack". Nothing to do with the other guy.
- It's Pronounced Tro-PAY: According to their Web site, it's pronounced: "si-ur (see-oor) roas (as in roast)."
- Lampshade Hanging: The song title "Gobbledigook". Let it never be said that these guys don't have a sense of humor about the whole made-up language thing.
- Last Note Nightmare: Avalon. After you've finally adjusted to the slow and haunting tempo, weird clanking noises come in.
- Considering that the entire song is a slowed down instrumental section of Starálfur, those 'clanking noises' are just the strums of a guitar .
- Just be thankful they didn't use the actual ending of Starálfur.
- Dido has a very jarring and extreme one that lasts about two minutes.
- Valtari has a big one on "Ég anda".
- "Kveikur" ends with an extremely distorted Drone of Dread. They sure do like these.
- "Hrafntinna" actually subverts this. It definitely goes into one after the last chorus, as the song slowly falls apart until it's only the drums and hellish drones when Jonsi's distorted voice comes in but fades into a very mournful, but soothing horn section. "Brennestein" ends similarly, with a similarly downplayed but much more triumphant sounding horn section at the end.
- Le Film Artistique: For Valtari, the band had a project they called "the valtari mystery film experiment" in which they hired multiple directors and gave them each the same modest budget and allowed them each to make a video based on the first thing they thought of for each song on Valtari with absolute creative freedom and control without any input from the band. Most of the videos ended up being this.
- Lighter and Softer: After the success of several heartwarming songs on Takk..., their next album Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust is considerably more upbeat and poppy.
- Limited Lyrics Song: Taken Up to Eleven with ( ), where every single song has the same lyrics, which is one line repeated in several different ways. See Singing Simlish below.
- Long Title: Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
- Lucky Charms Title/No Title: ( ).
- Lyrical Dissonance: At least, for English speakers, one might be disappointed to look up translations to many of their songs' lyrics and find that they are oddly mundane, contrasting with the grandiosity of their music. Especially "Ágætis Byrjun", which is about the bands' disappointment after they found that their first album sounded crappy.
- "Hrafntinna" provides a doozy of one. While the song sounds quite mournful and a bit depressing, it still fits in with their usual output and has a very catchy melody. The lyrics are pure apocalyptic horror.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: The band generally stays extremely low, in the 1-to-5 range, but "Brennestein" is roughly an 8, and if it weren't for the vocals could even be a 9. "Kveikur" as well would be a 9 (with moments of 10, especially the ending) if it weren't for the Ear Worm chorus keeping it teetering between 8 and 9.
- Mundane Made Awesome: They write majestic-sounding songs about the oddest things. Case in point: probably their most popular song "Hoppipolla", an incredibly epic piece that even non-fans consider Crowning Music of Awesome - it's about how much Jonsi enjoys jumping in puddles, even though it gives him a nosebleed.
- Nightmare Face: The baby on the cover for Von.
- Non-Indicative Name: "Viðrar vel til loftárása" is Icelandic for "Good weather for an airstrike", which title-wise is in a completely different universe from the song itself. The band got the title from a weatherman sarcastically reporting "Today: good weather for an airstrike" while NATO was bombing Serbia during the Kosovo War. (In a freaky coincidence, Ágætis byrjun was actually released on 12 June 1999, the day Slobodan Miloević agreed to withdraw the Serbian forces and UN peacekeepers began being deployed in Kosovo.)
- The same goes for "Með blóðnasir", which is awfully cheerful for a song named literally "With a Nosebleed".
- And "Popplagið" isn't what you could in any way call a pop song.
- No Title: The album ( ). Its songs are generally referred to as "Untitled #1", "Untitled #2" and so on, with alternate names used by the band to identify them.
- Ominous Music Box Tune: "Sæglópur".
- One Man Wail
- Only Known by Their Nickname: The band members are usually referred to by the shortened nicknames listed above, since their actual names may be more difficult to pronounce for non-Icelanders.
- Portmantitle: Inverted - they actually split the name Sigurrós.
- Precision F-Strike: "Heysátan" has two: "Eg hef slegið fjandans nóg" (I've mowed fucking enough) and "Og mér fótur rann... Andskotann" (I slipped... fuck).
- Pun-Based Title: Von brigði separately means "Hope Alteration" (fitting, since it's a remix album), while Vonbrigði joined together means "disappointment" (reflecting the band's feelings about Von).
- The song Svefn-g-englar: Svefngenglar simply means "Sleepwalkers." Englar also means "Angels," so the title is a forced pun and can be translated as "Sleepwalking Angels"
- Record Producer: There is no real information about who produced Von so we have to assume it was self-produced, all of the band's albums from Ágætis byrjun to Takk were co-produced by the band and Ken Thomas, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust was co-produced by the band and Mark "Flood" Ellis, and Valtari was co-produced by the band and Jónsi's partner, Alex Somers.
- Rockumentary: Heima
- Sdrawkcab Name: "Rukrym," a Hidden Track on Von, which is fittingly the a section of the song "Myrkur" played backwards.
- Singing Simlish: Vonlenska.
- Solo Side Project: Jonsi has released Go, a distinctly more electronic-sounding album than the band's usual Post-Rock output.
- Something Completely Different: Jónsi takes a crack at English-language lyrics with "All Alright". Apart from a bit of a thick accent, he doesn't fare that bad. Actually, the entire Með suð album could count, since they ventured out of their Icelandic studio, worked with a different producer and toned down their immense sound somewhat.
- Kveikur took the band Darker and Edgier than anyone expected, and has the band singing about the horrors of the apocalypse.
- Stage Names: Understandable since most of their audience aren't Icelandic speakers.
- Surprisingly Good English: "All Alright".
- The majority of Jonsi's solo album Go.
- Surreal Horror: Most of the lyrics on Kveikur and the video for "Brennestein"
- Surreal Music Video: Quite a few.
- Sweet Dreams Fuel: After they spent most of their discography utterly mastering this trope by the time of Valtari, they completely abandoned it for Kveikur.
- Textless Album Cover: All of their albums between 1997 and 2002. ( ) was the first to put text on the cover.
- The Something Song: Some of the alternate names used by the band for the songs on ( ) -"Fyrsta" ("First Song"), "Dauðalagið" ("The Death Song") and "Popplagið" ("The Pop Song").
- Additionally, the working titles for "Hljómalind" and "Hoppípolla" were "Rokklagið" (The Rock Song) and "The Money Song," respectively, "Rokklagið" for being the most rock-like out of their songs, and "The Money Song" for the band's certainty that the song would be commercially successful.
- The live album Inni also features "Lúppulagið" (The Loop Song), which would eventually become "Varðeldur" on Valtari.
- Theme Naming: All of the songs on Kveikur have an elemental theme to them, as well as being related to the geography of Iceland. "Brennestein" translates to "Brimstone," "Hrafntinna" to "Obsidian," "Ísjaki" to "Iceberg," and so forth, with the exception of the title track (which translates to "Candlewick") and the Japanese bonus tracks.
- Title Track: All their albums except () and Hvarf/Heim (if that counts as a proper album) have one... or in the case of Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, two.
- Uncommon Time: All over the place on Takk. From The Other Wiki:
"In the track "Andvari" for example, the main melody repeats itself every 27 beats, with stress on beats 1, 5, 9, 11, 16, 20 and 25. This could be rendered as seven bars of 4, 4, 2, 5, 4, 5 and 3 beats respectively. Against this there is a steady counter-rhythm of triple time, which could be rendered as eighteen bars of 3/8 time per 27-beat cycle."
- The Unpronounceable: Their names, song titles, album titles, lyrics... hell, nearly everything.
- To the point where their official site has an Icelandic pronounciation guide.
- WAFF: If one band can be described as this trope, it's most likely them.
- Wham Shot: The two soccer playing boys kissing in the video for "Viðrar vel til loftárása"
- Word Salad Lyrics: "All Alright". Understandable, since apart from Georg, who lived in the UK for a while, the others' English is lacking.
- Some of their Icelandic lyrics as well.
- X Meets Y: Godspeed You! Black Emperor meets Enya and Radiohead